WEEK 18: Kicking a bit harder
This week, your baby’s muscles grow stronger and their fingerprints start to form, too. Find out about these developments and nutrition, including the importance of fibre.

18 weeks pregnant: Pregnancy tips and nutrition

At a glance

Boy or girl? Your second ultrasound may have the answer

You should start to feel your baby dancing around


Keep your bowels moving with lots of fibre like green veg, fruits and whole grains

Check you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium, or ask your midwife about supplements

Your little one currently has between 12 and 14,000,000,000 nerve cell endings! The heart is now big enough that we can hear heartbeats through a stethoscope.

Baby's development at 18 weeks

Your little one currently has between 12 and 14,000,000,000 nerve cell endings! Just one of pregnancy’s incredible facts. The heart is now big enough that we can hear heartbeats through a stethoscope. The hands are really coming along now too, with tiny little nails and fingerprints starting to form. And muscles are getting stronger, so movements are becoming more vigorous. If you haven’t felt your baby dancing around yet, you should soon.

Your body

Is it a boy or a girl??! The number one question on everyone’s mind. Well it’s almost time for your second ultrasound scan. Your GP will check that baby is healthy. And you should be able to find out the answer to that exciting question too. But don’t be disappointed if nothing can be seen yet. Baby has to be lying correctly, or even the most trained eye won’t be able to tell.

And remember, you can always choose to wait until birth to find out the sex of your little one too.

18 weeks pregnant woman having ultrasound scan


Unfortunately, pregnancy can interfere with normal bowel movements. So the word of the week is fibre. Eat lots of it. You’ll find it in fresh or cooked green vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Be careful with bran or wholemeal bread if you aren’t used to it, as too much can irritate the intestines. Drinking enough (2 litres of water per day) is important too, as it helps get things moving.

Start your day with a glass of water, or fresh orange/pulpy grapefruit juice. Prunes are a non-irritating, safe and natural laxative, so you can try soaking them overnight and having them for breakfast with yoghurt too.

If nothing is working, talk to your midwife or GP. And remember to make sure you never take over-the-counter laxatives.

Pregnancy tips

How do you get enough calcium into your pregnancy diet if you’re lactose intolerant? With a bit of creativity. Next time you’re shopping, try calcium-fortified products; orange juice, soy milk, almond milk and cereals make great alternatives to dairy. For calcium to be properly absorbed your body needs enough vitamin D.

And lastly, make sure you get enough Vitamin D – an essential nutrient for bone health. Regardless of whether you are getting out in the sun in the day, you need to take a vitamin D supplement during your pregnancy. A daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms should be taken.

Find out more on antenatal scans

17 weeks pregnant: Pregnancy tips and nutrition

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Important advice to mothers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. SMA® Nutrition fully supports this and continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by your healthcare professional.


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