You are 18 Weeks and 5 Days 149 days to go…

Your baby’s fingers and toes are fully developed and their unique prints are beginning to form.

Your baby will be a unique individual and his fingerprints will be proof of this. The ridge patterns in the dermis that will eventually form fingerprints (and “toeprints”) are fully developed by this stage of pregnancy. These skin ridges are genetically determined and, as with most developments, are seen about a week earlier in the hands than the feet.

Your baby’s sweat glands appeared in his skin in the eighth week, and will continue to increase up to 28 weeks; but they do not function until after birth. The color of your baby’s skin is due to melanin, a pigment produced by “melanocytes,” specialized skin cells that have now migrated into the skin. Different skin tones are not due to differing numbers of these cells but due to the amount and shade of pigment that each cell produces. Melanin protects the skin from ultraviolet light which damages DNA.

Although unborn babies produce melanin pigment, they do not achieve their final amount of skin pigment until well into childhood. For this reason it follows that all newborn babies are particularly vulnerable to sunburn. Dark-skinned babies are likely to have a light skin tone when they’re born.


In acupuncture, certain points on the body associated with energy channels or meridians are stimulated by the insertion of fine needles. The belief is that these conduct vital energy or “qi” around the body. Illness or symptoms are associated with an imbalance of this vital energy.

Acupuncture has been widely and successfully used in pregnancy and regular treatments can help to treat a number of health problems:

  • Pain and nausea—a recent study has shown it to be effective in relieving nausea and vomiting or the potentially more dangerous hyperemesis gravidarum .

  • Heartburn

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Stress

  • Headaches and backaches

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Acupuncture may be effective in “turning” breech babies, and can also be used during labor to boost energy and relieve pain.

Use a registered practitioner with experience treating pregnant women.

Eating plenty of foods that are rich in vitamin E could reduce the risk of your baby developing allergies, including asthma.

Researchers believe that low levels of vitamin E during pregnancy could adversely affect your baby’s lung development or immune system. To boost your intake, improve your diet rather than taking supplements. If you eat more than you need, vitamin E is stored in the body for future use.

Boost your intake of vitamin E by eating salad greens, green leafy vegetables, nuts, avocados, eggs, and wheatgerm.

You are 18 Weeks and 6 Days 148 days to go…

At around this time you’ll have another scan, and your baby will get a thorough health checkup.

Your baby today

Your baby appears to be quite thin on early scans. Fat reserves are not yet laid down underneath the skin, which can seem quite thin and almost transparent. An ultrasound image also highlights the underlying bony skeleton, enhancing this effect.

From 18–20 weeks most doctors’ offices or hospitals offer a detailed ultrasound scan, which is termed an “anatomy” scan. The scan is used to check the baby’s overall development and examine his organs and body systems (see Your 20-week Scan) to check for signs of problems. For most women and their partners, this scan will reassure them that all is progressing well with the baby’s development.

The scan can take some time to perform because of the detailed measurements and investigations taking place. The sonographer can only do the checks when the baby is in the correct position—this can be a challenge, given that the baby is likely to be moving around a lot. If the position of your baby makes it difficult to do all the checks, you may be asked to walk around for a little while and then return, or even to come back in a week or two for another attempt.

Exercising in water

Water is a great environment to work out in during pregnancy: the added support for your belly and extra resistance will enable you to maintain your fitness.

When standing, the water should be just above your waist—too deep and you will not be stable enough and too shallow and you won’t get enough support from the water.

You are likely to find pregnancy water aerobics classes at your local gym, but here are a few simple exercises you can do yourself:

  • Running in place: bring your knees up and push your arms forward and back in a pumping motion. Run for 3–4 minutes, if possible, but always stop if you feel tired. This exercise has cardiovascular benefits, and will help tone your legs and arms.

  • Bicycle exercise: stand in the water and place a float under each arm. Once you’re comfortable, lean back slightly and move your legs in front of you as if you are rotating the pedals on a bicycle. Continue the cycling motion for 3–4 minutes, if possible, but always stop if you feel tired. This exercise will help you maintain your fitness and help tone your legs. It’s also a good way to strengthen your back and arms.

  • Arm exercises: stand with your feet apart and knees slightly bent, then crouch to submerge your shoulders in the water. Lift your arms from your sides to the height of your shoulders and back down again. Pull your arms down in the water toward you and push up as hard as you can (see image). This exercise will help tone and strengthen the muscles in your arms, back, and abdomen.

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