Your Guide to Being 16 Weeks Pregnant:
This week, your baby will start to blink. She’s growing quickly at the moment, and will double her weight in the next three weeks. Her bones are starting to ossify (harden), with the exception of her skull; these bones will stay softer until the birth, so they can flex as she passes down the birth canal. And she’s straightening out, too, lifting her head and neck into a more upright position.
Your baby’s heart rate has slowed down since the start of pregnancy, but still beats 110-160 times a minute – twice as fast as yours. From 16 weeks, you’ll be able to hear the heartbeat via your midwife’s heart monitor, although it’s sometimes possible to hear it earlier. Her heart rate will increase when you laugh and decrease when you’re blue, proving that a happy mum makes for a happy baby.
What’s happening to you
Any day now, you can expect to feel your baby moving for the first time. First-time mums-to-be generally feel the first kicks from around 16 weeks, but don’t panic if you can’t feel a thing; some have to wait as long as 22 weeks. And don’t expect big hefty wallops at this stage; early movements are very subtle, feeling like wind, bubbles or your stomach turning over.
If you’ve decided to have the blood test to screen for chromosomal disorders like Down’s Syndrome, it’ll probably be this week. This is also the prime time for amniocentesis, which may be recommended if you’re an older mum-to-be or if an earlier screening test indicated a high risk of abnormalities.
It’s common to feel dizzy or light-headed at this stage. Pregnancy changes the way your blood flows around your body, and sometimes, such as when you stand up suddenly, there’s a slight shortage of blood to the brain. Changing position slowly, keeping well hydrated and eating little and often can help prevent wobbly spells.
When to check it out
If you’re having fainting episodes, combined with blurred vision, palpitations or headaches, you may be suffering from severe anaemia, caused by your baby’s huge demands on your iron stores. See your doctor, who’ll be able to prescribe iron supplements.
‘To do’ this week
Find out about pregnancy exercise classes, like yoga, pilates or aquanatal. Research shows that women who exercise throughout pregnancy tend to have quicker and easier labours, plus it’s a great way to meet other mums-to-be and bond over a post-workout slab of cake.