There are lots of good reasons to love Week 16. You have likely felt a surge of energy, and it won’t be too long now before you’ll start feeling something you’ve been waiting so long for: your baby moving!
At this point in their pregnancies—as it becomes unmistakably obvious that they are pregnant, but the symptoms aren’t too severe—many moms’ attentions turn in a serious way to healthy eating, weight gain, and making sure their environments are as healthy as possible.
If you’ve been eating healthy up to now and taking your prenatal vitamins, congratulations! This is one time in your life when it’s okay to snack throughout the day (concentrating on healthy snacks, of course) and really embracing your weight increase on the scale in a steady, consistent way. The same goes for your exercise program: if you’ve been doing your moderate exercise, congratulations and keep it up!
This is also right around the time that it seems like everyone around you will have a special way to determine the gender of your baby. You might have heard some of these already:
- If you’re carrying low, it means you’re having a girl.
- If your feet are cold, it’s a boy.
- If you sweat more, it’s a girl.
- If the fetal heart rate is above 140 beats per minute, you’re having a girl.
- If your linea nigra (the dark line that will develop on your stomach) goes up past your belly button, it’s a boy.
- If your appetite is completely out of control, it’s a boy.
- If you crave citrus, it’s a girl.
These are fun, but guess what? The wisdom of old wives aside, there are only a few ways to tell your baby’s gender for certain, and those are up to your doctor. They include ultrasound, non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) blood tests, and sampling the placenta or amniotic fluid via chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. So have some fun guessing, but you might want to hold off decorating the nursery until you know for sure, either from your doctor or by having your baby!
Your baby’s fetal age is now 14 weeks. Although it can vary somewhat, your baby is about 4–5 inches long and the size of a nice Haas avocado, weighing about 3 ounces. Your uterus weighs about 9 ounces, or just over half a pound.
As your baby’s organ systems continue to develop, his or her world is beginning to open up. Besides reacting to light, it’s likely that he or she can now hear your voice and other loud outside noises, including music. This doesn’t mean that playing Mozart through headphones on your stomach will make your baby into a musical prodigy, but it does mean that we know babies will react to external noises by now. There’s even evidence that babies will recognize songs they’re heard inside the womb after they are born. It’s also cool to think that your baby is already making faces in response to things you do.
From a developmental point of view, your baby’s legs are stretching out and his or her proportions are more and more “normal.” If you could see your baby now, the main things you’d likely notice would be the lanugo hair covering his or her skin and the total absence of fat. We think of healthy babies as chubby, but at Week 16, your baby’s energy has gone into creating all those wonderful organs, bones, and skin (which is still nearly transparent at this stage). There is no body fat on the tiny baby at this point, but that will begin to change quickly as time goes by.
This is also right around the time you might start to feel your baby move. This is called “quickening,” and it may be hard to tell at first what you’re actually feeling. For some moms, their baby’s first movements feel like gas or a fluttering in their stomachs. This is a great moment, but don’t worry if you don’t feel it yet. It’s ok to not feel anything until Week 18 or 20, depending on if this is your first baby or not. First-time moms tend to feel the quickening later.
“Many women wonder just how many ultrasounds they will have throughout their pregnancy, and it really depends on you and your baby.”
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018