During your 16th week, you may experience your first episode of quickening ( if you haven’t already). Quickening are the tiny flutters most mothers recognize as their baby’s first movements. Usually occurring between the 16th and 20th week, this is just the beginning of many pushes, pulls and tugs that will be a part of your life for the coming months.
While there are many prenatal tests to be completed when you are pregnant, your doctor may offer you a test known as a Triple Screen around this time—but usually before. The Triple Screen looks for genetic abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome or Tay Sachs disease. Some parents may choose to terminate their pregnancy based on a history of genetic disorders or a positive Triple Screen result in combination with further testing. If termination is chosen, it is best to complete this before the 20th week.
By week sixteen the baby is about 17.5 centimeters long and 160 grams in weight. The baby has more space in the uterus and will start moving around a lot more. The baby can grab, kick and even do somersaults in the uterus. As the baby gets bigger the tighter the space will be and you will start to feel movements, but they will feel more like pressure, rolling or stretching than bounding jumps
Your baby can get hiccups during this time as well. As the baby grows, you will know when the baby has the hiccups because you will feel the rhythmic jumping of the baby from inside your belly. At this stage the baby will react to strong visual stimulation and will use their hands to protect their eyes from bright lights or stimulus. By now the baby and the placenta are about the same size. The head and the neck are straighter and you may be able to tell the sex of the baby if the baby is in the right position when a sonogram is done.
By now the baby’s urinary system and the circulatory system are beginning to function better. The baby will now start pumping about 25 quarts of blood a day. When you reach the end of the pregnancy at about 40 weeks the baby will have increased that amount to 1900 quarts a day.
Changes With Your Body
You will continue to feel aches and pains as the baby continues to grow. Backaches are the most common during pregnancy, by relaxing and resting you can alleviate the pain. Backaches can be attributed to not only your growing belly but also hormones that allow the pelvis and bony structures of the back to become more flexible in preparation for child birth.
You may want to use this time to start sleeping on your side rather than on your back. Use plenty of pillows as it takes to make you feel more comfortable. As the pregnancy progresses, it is recommended that mothers sleep on their sides (preferably left) to prevent pressure to major blood vessels running under the uterus that could restrict blood flow to the baby.
What To Expect
You will start to exude that pregnancy glow thanks to hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the skin. You will be feeling more like you are pregnant and others will begin to notice too. Other symptoms that may still linger can include:
- Nosebleeds and nasal stuffiness
- Your waistline will disappear
Make sure to include your partner as much as possible in all medical appointments and decisions. Discuss any questions that you may have surrounding your Triple Screen test, and decision to have, or not have it done.
Continue eating right and exercising lightly to keep your body fit for upcoming labor and delivery. And, if you haven’t done so yet, go out and get some maternity clothes—you’re going to need them very soon.