You are 16 Weeks and 4 Days 164 days to go…

Until you feel your baby move, hearing his heartbeat is the next best way for you to bond with him.

Your baby today

In this 2D ultrasound, the baby’s head is to the left, with the arms not visible, although the knee and lower leg can be seen. At this stage, details of the brain developing under the skull are becoming much more apparent.

At this stage of pregnancy, your doctor may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat using a handheld Doppler ultrasound machine. Because ultrasound waves do not travel well in air, gel is applied to the end of the probe or “transducer” as it is placed on your abdomen. This then detects the heartbeat and converts it into a sound that we can hear.

It’s quite easy to distinguish your baby’s heartbeat from your own since it beats almost twice as fast. However, your baby’s heart rate peaked around five weeks ago and, since then, has slowed down as the nerves controlling the heart’s rhythm have matured.

During the second half of pregnancy, the range of the heartbeat is between 120 and 160 beats per minute and will be responsive to many stimuli, as well as to your baby’s activity.

… Monitoring your baby’s heartbeat at home
Q: My partner is eager to rent a handheld Doppler so we can listen to our baby’s heartbeat. Do you think this is a good idea?
A: Doctor: Handheld ultrasound Doppler devices, which allow parents-to-be to listen to the fetal heartbeat at home, are currently sold over the counter in the US. Parents are told they can listen to their baby “in complete safety as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy” and “any time they want,” implying there is no limit on frequency of exposure.

However, there has been no research into the effects of frequent scanning, which would be more than the baby receives during prenatal care. A Doppler is not a toy and using it in this way is an unnecessary risk.

A: Midwife: Using your own Doppler may help reassure you if you are very anxious about your baby’s well-being, but it is just as likely to have the opposite effect if you can’t pick up the heartbeat. Identifying different sounds takes practice and if you have difficulty finding the heartbeat (this happens to midwives, too!), it could be distressing. If you’re worried about your baby for any reason, help and advice is only a phone call away.
A: Mom: I used a Doppler because I am a worrier and it really gave me peace of mind. I didn’t use it very often and only when there was a good reason to. For example, at one stage of my pregnancy, I had an episode of bleeding and clots. After this, I was very worried about my baby’s health and hearing his heartbeat really helped to calm me down, so it had benefits for the baby, too. I don’t think a Doppler is a substitute for medical advice but it’s a useful addition.

The baby’s heart rate is not an indication of gender.

A study in the mid-1990s, using over 10,000 measurements, dispelled the theory that the speed of a baby’s heartbeat predicted whether it would be a boy or a girl.

You are 16 Weeks and 5 Days 163 days to go…

Ensuring you drink enough fluids is essential to good health in pregnancy, so carry your bottle of water everywhere.

Your baby today

The baby’s face is partially obscured by the hand in this 3D image. Babies at this stage are small enough to fit onto the ultrasound screen, but beyond 20 weeks it is increasingly only possible to see a smaller part of the baby at any one time.

Staying hydrated in pregnancy can be a challenge. Because of the hormonal changes taking place, some of the fluid you take in leaks into your body tissues, rather than staying within the bloodstream.

It’s difficult to recommend an exact amount of fluid that should be drunk to keep you hydrated, since this depends on many factors, such as the foods you eat (some naturally contain water), your size, the amount you exercise, and the heat and humidity in the environment. Therefore, you need to listen to your own body to determine if you’re adequately hydrated. One of the best ways to do this is to look at your urine. If it’s clear to light yellow, you’re adequately hydrated. If it’s bright yellow or orange, you’re likely to be dehydrated.

Drinking plenty of water is important. Sometimes, though, if you are nauseous, or just plain tired of drinking water, you may want to try other options for hydration, such as drinking juice or eating more fruit (see Fabulous fruit). Remember that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, are not hydrating; caffeine has a diuretic effect, which means that you will want to urinate more often.

In the second and third trimester, dehydration in pregnancy can lead to premature contractions. This is because an anti-diuretic hormone is produced to help your body hold on to water. This hormone acts a lot like oxytocin, the hormone that triggers labor, causing contractions. Staying hydrated will prevent this from happening.

… Nutrition
Fabulous fruit

One great way to stay hydrated is to eat fruit. Many fruits are very high in water, especially melons, grapes, and strawberries. The water in fruit is very well absorbed in your body, because it comes partnered with sugar, which helps the water stay in your bloodstream.

In addition, fruit is highly nutritious and contains many of the vitamins and electrolytes that your body needs to stay in balance.

… Doctor
Q: Should I stop picking up my toddler while I’m pregnant?
A: You may be experiencing some back pain and discomfort as your hormones begin to soften your ligaments. This means that your joints are less stable than usual, and injury is more likely.

Lifting your toddler will not harm your baby, but it may cause you discomfort, and you may be more likely to lose your balance. Ask your toddler to climb onto a chair so that you don’t need to lift from bending position. To lift from floor level, squat down and use your legs to bear the weight. Avoid bending, which strains your back. Encourage your toddler to get onto your lap for a hug.

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