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Pregnancy week 18

When you are 18 weeks pregnant, you may be offered an anomaly scan and screening/diagnostic tests which can reveal the sex of your baby.

Week-by-week stages of pregnancy: week 18

You are now 18 weeks pregnant and your baby is getting bigger every week, measuring about 18cm long. It is now possible to visually tell the sex of your baby.  They are making developments in their reflexes this week, as they can begin to hear and feel. They will be bringing their thumb up towards their chin and have started developing their swallowing and sucking reflex, swallowing tiny amounts of amniotic fluid.  They will also be making basic eye movements.

At 18 weeks, pregnancy symptoms will continue much the same as last week, as you get closer to the end of your second trimester.  You may well be experience some niggles and discomforts of pregnancy, and although awkward and annoying these are perfectly normal.  You may notice your bump and breasts getting visibly bigger as the weeks go on and it may be getting more difficult to hide your pregnancy.

Why not embrace your new body and head off for a shopping trip to expand your wardrobe? This doesn’t have to mean a big expense. You can find good second-hand maternity wear in charity shops or borrow from friends and family.
Most hospitals offer a detailed antenatal scan between 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, sometimes called an anomaly scan. This is a detailed scan that checks the structure and organs of your baby, including the brain, heart and lungs. You may also be offered screening and diagnostic tests at 18 weeks (please note the tests available to you may vary depending on where you live). You can accept or refuse to have any of these tests, and whether you are eligible for them will depend on a number of factors including your age, health and genetic history.  To help you feel reassured when you attend the pregnancy scan, try and read up on the tests and the results so you are informed or ask your midwife any questions you may have.

It is at this scan that the sex of your baby will be visible for the first time and you can find out if you are having a boy or a girl. Again, it is entirely up to you whether to find out and your sonographer will ask you if you want to know. Lots of people want to find out as soon as possible so they can start picking names, others choose to wait beyond the 18th week of pregnancy so that they can be surprised at the birth. Deciding what you and your partner want is one of the fun and special parts of pregnancy, so enjoy this moment.

Further help and information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Join in with NCT on Facebook and Twitter - it's a great way to make new friends and stay in touch with old ones. Or joint our community for new parents on Google+ where you can connect with other parents online who are experiencing similar things.