Guide to Being 18 Weeks Pregnant

What You Might Be Feeling

Joint pain, back pain and leg cramps, oh my!
Joint pain, back pain and leg cramps, oh my!
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This week, as far as symptoms go, is probably more of the same: heartburn, bloating, slightly swollen ankles and feet, and skin changes like increased pigment around the eyes. You breasts may still be growing, your gums still bleeding and your legs still developing varicose veins. Try support hose.

The round ligament pain, those uncomfortable sensations running down the sides of your belly, may be increasing as your uterus continues to push the boundaries of your abdomen, and dizziness may still plague you, especially when you stand up quickly. All of it's normal, and all will pass. The latter can be reduced by slowing down.

There are also a few symptoms you might be feeling for the first time, including:

  • Stretch marks -- If you're showing, this could be the official start of those pink, shiny lines on your abdomen and possibly your hips and butt. Those creams, oils and lotions haven't been proven to make a difference in whether you get stretch marks or not; That's just genetic. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't use them. They'll help with stretching-related itchiness, and applying them is a nice thing to do for yourself.
  • Joint pain -- As the hormone relaxin starts really loosening up your joints (in preparation for hip expansion during delivery, some say), you may find your knees, hips and any other major joints starting to ache. Take it easy, and try to stop carrying heavy objects, since your joints aren't working at full capacity and you could hurt yourself.
  • Back pain -- Your expanding uterus is shifting your center of gravity, which is causing you to adopt an awkward posture. This can cause some serious backaches, especially down low.
  • Balance issues -- That shifting center of gravity can also affect your sense of balance, causing you to trip and fall more than usual. (Take care on the stairs, especially.)
  • Leg cramps -- It's unclear exactly why these happen, but they may be waking you up in the middle of the night. Try massaging your calves, which is the most common site of the shooting pains.
  • A fluttering in your belly -- The fluttering, or possibly rumbling, sensations typically start anywhere from weeks 18 to 22 (give or take a couple of weeks), so you might be feeling your little one moving around now! Some women describe it as butterflies, others as mimicking indigestion. If you're feeling it, enjoy the sudden physical awareness of the life you're growing. It'll help take the focus off the cramps, stretch marks, heartburn …

And speaking of the life you're growing …