You've made it halfway through your second trimester, and you may be starting to truly feel pregnant, suddenly very different from your former self. It's not just the absence of caffeine and the presence of heartburn. It's your shape, your skin tone, your hair and myriad other adjustments you see in the mirror as you enter week 19.
It'll get worse before it gets better, but don't worry: As soon as you feel those tiny kicks, you'll forget it all.
But you may not be feeling them yet, and that's fine. There's plenty for you to think about -- and accomplish -- while you wait for the coveted fluttering.
Here, what you may be feeling, what your baby is accomplishing, and what you might want to share with your partner this week.
To start with, you're probably experiencing a lot of the same things as last week, only intensified …
What You Might Be Feeling
Nearing the halfway point in your 40-week journey, chances are your jeans have shrunk, your appetite has grown, and, just maybe, you're feeling some kicks right about now. The unmistakable awareness that someone is inside you can be one of the greatest moments in the 40-week journey to motherhood. Latch onto it like a lifeline, because some of the other sensations going on right about now may be a lot less fun.
Other week 19 symptoms can include:
- Heartburn, bloating, indigestion, flatulence, constipation -- If it's related to your now-relaxed digestive system, you might be feeling it.
- Feeling off-balance -- Your expanding uterus is shifting your center of gravity, which can make you a little wobbly.
- Lower-back pain -- Your shifting center of gravity is wreaking havoc on your posture, too, forcing your lower back to take on more than its share of weight.
- Joint aches -- The hormone relaxin is loosening everything up.
- Dizziness when standing up -- Your blood pressure drops if you stand up too quickly.
- Light swelling in feet and ankles -- Your pregnancy-induced water retention is making things puffy.
- Leg cramps -- Nobody's sure why they happen, but they often strike at night in the lower legs.
- Pain around your abdomen and hips -- Round ligament pain is caused by the stretching of your abdominal muscles and ligaments to accommodate your growing uterus.
- Stretch marks -- If you don't get them, you're one of the lucky few. Only about 10 percent of pregnant women escape them entirely.
Most of these lovely symptoms have a purpose, at least: They're accommodating the amazing changes going on inside you right now …
What's Going On in Your Body
Length: About 6 inches. Weight: About 7 ounces. Skin: Covered in sticky white stuff.
Yes, this is the week your little one develops that waxy, white coating that sometimes sloughs off newborns. (They tend to leave that out in the movies.) It's called vernix caseosa, and it keeps delicate fetal skin protected from the effects of liquid submersion. It eventually falls away, but bits are often still clinging to your baby's skin at delivery. Don't worry, you'll think it's cute.
Other developmental feats in week 19 include:
- Hair continues to grow on the scalp and eyebrows.
- An early type of fat, called "brown fat," begins to provide insulation until the baby grows the real stuff, which won't happen for a while yet.
- Sensory and motor centers in the brain are operational, so he or she is hearing, seeing, tasting and moving around like never before.
- Girls now have 6 million eggs in their ovaries.
- Bone continues to ossify.
This last point means it's more important than ever to get your calcium. And while you while away the night popping those multitasking Tums, your partner can address some other, equally burning issues …
What Your Partner Should Know
Midnight antacid runs (and get some ice cream while you're there, please) are just one of the tasks a partner can take on to make growing a life a bit less uncomfortable. And more yummy.
Some other things a partner might want to be aware of include:
- She really needs downtime -- As the baby gets bigger and growth continues at a rapid pace, all of her body systems are working overtime, and she'll be more tired than usual. Add to that the sleep difficulty that might be starting about now, and you've got yourself the makings for exhaustion. If you can, make it easy for her to rest during the day.
- She may appreciate some reassurance -- Pregnancy can make a lady feel a bit, well, large, not to mention graceless, waistless and farty. Make sure she knows you still think she's hot. It'll help a lot.
- She may be less mobile than before -- Swollen ankles, back pain, balance problems and joint aches can mean physical activity is getting more cumbersome. If this means losing your jogging partner for a while, take heart: You'll get her back soon.
And while you're walking together instead of running, you can save the extra breath to talk about some other week 19 issues …
Some Things to Consider
With just 21 weeks to go (it may seem like a long time, but you'll be pushing before you know it), you may want to push some issues to the forefront. Just a handful of points to start or continue thinking about in week 19 include:
- Weight gain -- This really is a must, and by week 19, you've hopefully gained at least 8 to 14 pounds. If not, get on it by increasing your intake of nutritious food. Don't forget to indulge yourself every now and then, too: A couple of cookies every day is a lot healthier than eating an entire box when you just can't resist any more.
- Remedies -- With your growing physical discomfort, you may be thinking about help in the form of prescription, over-the-counter or herbal remedies. Always check with your doctor. Some drugs (whether you need a prescription or not) aren't safe for you now -- even if they're herbal.
- Sleep problems (and solutions) -- Your growing front side might mean your sleep time is shrinking. It can be hard to get comfortable as your shape changes. Try sleeping on your side and propping a pillow under your belly, or hug a body pillow. You need your rest.
- Day care -- It's important to discuss practical matters like this well before the time comes to enact them. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding work, childcare and help at home. It's not something you want to leave for later on.
- Nursery preparations -- Five months seems like a long time, but if you're ordering furniture, you may be waiting many weeks for delivery. And then you have to find the time to assemble it. Start looking now, and if you plan to register or create wish lists, get going on that. You may find it's a wonderful way to pass a sleepless hour.
And finally, what not to spend much time thinking about, if you can help it …
Don't Worry If…
Midway through your pregnancy, you've probably got plenty to think (or obsess) about without adding needless worries to the list. A few of the things you really don't need to be concerned about include:
- You've gained more or less than 8 to 14 pounds -- Everyone gains weight at different rates. If you're eating healthfully, moving around and your doctor or midwife isn't worried, you needn't be, either.
- You haven't felt movement yet -- Some women don't feel anything until they're at least six months in. If this is your first pregnancy, you have very strong abdominal muscles, or you're overweight, it could be a little while yet before you recognize the kicks and punches as such.
- You feel a tingling in your fingers and toes -- It's not a sign of a problem, though it can feel very strange. Your body's inner swelling may be exerting pressure on your nerves, causing that "sleeping" sensation in your digits.
The most important thing not to worry about during week 19? Weeks 20 through 40. Women have been growing babies since the beginning of time, and your body knows what to do. At this point, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Oh, and sleep like a teenager. It could be the last you'll see for a while.
For more information on pregnancy, parenting and related topics, look over the links on the next page.
- Guide to Being One Week Pregnant
- Guide to Being Two Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Three Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Four Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Five Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Six Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Seven Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Eight Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being Nine Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 10 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 11 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 12 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 13 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 14 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 15 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 16 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 17 Weeks Pregnant
- Guide to Being 18 Weeks Pregnant
- Quiz: Pregnancy Myths
- "2nd Trimester: Week 19." Parenting. (April 11, 2011)http://www.parenting.com/pregnancy/timeline/second-trimester-week-19
- "19th week of Pregnancy." American Pregnancy Association. (April 11, 2011)http://www.americanpregnancy.org/weekbyweek/week19.htm
- "Pregnancy Calendar: Week 19." Kids Health. (April 11, 2011)http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_center/pregnancy_calendar/week19.html
- "Week 19 of Pregnancy." What to Expect. (April 11, 2011)http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/week-19.aspx
- "Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Weeks 17-20." WebMD. (April 11, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-17-20