You are 16 Weeks and 6 Days 162 days to go…

Your baby is practicing his breathing movements, which are vital to develop his chest muscles and enable his lungs to grow.

Your baby today

Your baby often brings his hands to his face and sometimes sucks his thumb at this stage; however, the sucking action is not well coordinated and the thumb is more likely to enter the mouth by luck than design. The arms are now in proportion with the rest of the body.

While he’s in the uterus, your baby is practicing his breathing movements and this also aids his lung development. When he breathes in, the diaphragm moves downward and the chest wall moves inward.

Each “breath” the baby takes lasts less than a second. Breathing might only happen occasionally at this stage and when it does it can be either regular or irregular.

Your baby might also open his jaw and swallow at the same time as making a breathing movement. A single breathing movement with a large movement of the diaphragm may resemble a sigh.

For the chest wall movements to be effective, there must be adequate amniotic fluid (see You are 15 Weeks and 6 Days). This is especially true for the critical time of lung development, from 16–26 weeks.

By the 24th week of pregnancy, your baby will spend approximately three hours in a 24-hour period practicing breathing movements, and around eight hours in a 24-hour period in the last eight weeks of pregnancy.

… Twins
Growth rate

While most unborn twins grow at much the same pace, from now on some don’t.

Your babies are almost certainly developing all the right organs at the right time, even when there’s a size discrepancy. If, however, a scan detects a growth difference between your twins, you’ll have additional scans to monitor growth. Lesser degrees aren’t usually a problem. Doctors aren’t usually concerned unless there’s a growth difference of more than 15 percent.

… Doctor
Q: Why am I beginning to get brown patches on my face?
A: As many as 70 percent of pregnant women find the color of their skin changes. You may notice brown patches appearing on your forehead, cheeks, and neck, known as chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy.” Darker-skinned women may develop lighter-colored patches.

Chloasma is caused by an increase in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin and hair its natural color. It will gradually fade after the birth. To minimize the patches, stay out of the sun as much as possible, use a high protection sunscreen, and wear a hat outdoors. Try covering larger patches with a tinted moisturizer or foundation and use concealer on smaller patches.

When a pregnant woman smokes, it reduces the number of times her baby practices breathing movements.

In a British Medical Journal research study, the proportion of time that the baby practiced breathing movements was found to fall within five minutes of the mother beginning to smoke her cigarette.

You are 17 Weeks Exactly 161 days to go…

While your energy levels are at a peak, make the most of eating out but choose your meals wisely.

Your baby today

Every part of your baby has an enhanced blood supply bringing nutrients for growth. Blood vessels are easy to see on scans because the skin is still quite transparent, with little fat yet deposited beneath the skin.

Being pregnant doesn’t have to cramp your lifestyle, and it’s perfectly possible to eat out safely. You may, however, have to ask what’s in particular dishes to avoid eating foods that aren’t recommended during pregnancy, such as soft cheeses, shellfish, and raw eggs.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what exactly is in a dish and always request that your meat and fish are cooked to well done, to avoid any possible contamination. Check that all cheese and milk products, including yogurts, included in recipes, have been pasteurized.

You may find that fatty foods upset your stomach and cause heartburn (see … Health), and, if so, stick with foods that have been grilled or steamed, rather than fried. Beware of accompaniments such as pickles and chutneys that may not be entirely fresh. Pâtés and terrines should also be avoided.

Stronger nails

Your nails are likely to be stronger and healthier than ever, due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.

Since your nails are in good condition, you can simply file them and they’ll look nice even without nail polish. If you do decide to have a manicure, make sure it takes place in a well-ventilated room. Avoid using nail polishes that contain dibutyl phthalate (DBP), an ingredient that is linked to birth defects in animals.

… Nutritionist
Q: I’m a vegetarian but keep craving meat. Is this normal?
A: When you’re pregnant, it’s common for your body to crave things that might be missing from your diet. You may be craving meat because you are low in iron or protein, for example, both of which are required in higher quantities during pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, it’s particularly important to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need. If you don’t eat meat, you can get iron from whole-grain cereals and flours, leafy green vegetables, molasses, legumes, such as lentils and kidney beans, and dried fruit, such as raisins, and apricots. It helps to have a glass of orange juice, or another drink or food high in vitamin C, such as peppers and other citrus fruit, with your meals, since this encourages the absorption of iron.

Protein is also crucial to your baby’s development. Legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy produce all contain good quantities of protein. Try adding some quinoa—a protein-packed grain—to your diet. Quinoa is a great alternative to rice and is one of the few plant sources of protein that contains all the essential amino acids. It’s also high in omega oils, which will encourage the development of your baby’s nervous system and brain.

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