16 weeks pregnant
Week 16 is an exciting time, with lots of milestones happening, or on the horizon, and a midwife appointment where you might even get to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
Your baby at 16 weeks
This week your baby is practising her facial expressions, holding her head straighter, yawning and even sucking her thumb. And there’s lots more that’s new in week 16, too…
- Her nervous system is making connections to her muscles, allowing her to move more purposefully.
- Her bones are hardening as more calcium is deposited in them, and her backbone and the muscles in this area become much stronger this week, too.
- She’s now started clutching at anything that brushes her skin, rather than jerking away – it’s the beginning of a lifetime of grabbing things she shouldn’t be touching.
- Her newly developed fingers are able to curl round the umbilical cord and sometimes grab her other hand.
- The increasing connections between her nervous system and muscles mean that she has some early reflexes. Already, she will turn her mouth towards anything that brushes near it, a reflex that prepares her for rooting for your boob to breastfeed after she’s born.
What size is the baby at 16 weeks?
At week 16 your baby is 11.6cm long – about the size of an avocado – and weighs in at 100g.
How is your body changing at 16 weeks pregnant?
If you aren’t a first-time mum you may feel your baby’s movements for the first time around now. However, if this is your first baby, at 16 weeks it's unlikely you will feel anything for a little while yet – first-time mums tend to feel the first kicks and flutters somewhere between week 18 and week 24, not because the baby doesn’t move at the same stage, but just because if you haven’t felt early movements before they’re much harder to recognise.
These first slight movements are known as 'quickening'. They feel like flutterings, as though something is bubbling lightly in your abdomen. As the weeks go on, though, the little flutterings become much more obvious kicks and turns. In a few weeks you’ll be amazed you were ever unsure whether those movements were your baby or just indigestion.
Your uterus is slowly elbowing other organs out of the way, which can feel quite unusual and you may feel some pain in your lower abdomen as things shift around. This is round ligament pain, which is caused by pregnancy hormones that encourage your uterus and the ligaments supporting it to stretch. You might find the pain occurs more when you’re getting up from a lying or sitting position, climbing out of the bath, coughing or sneezing.
Round ligament pain is usually nothing to worry about but if it doesn’t pass quickly or feels particularly painful, it’s always worth talking to your midwife.
Pregnancy symptoms in week 16
You may be sleeping just fine at the moment, but more likely you're finding your old positions less comfortable. If you’re suffering with insomnia as a result, now is the time to start sleeping on your side. The left side is best if you can manage it, as it maximises the amount of blood and nutrients reaching the placenta.
If you sleep on your back it puts pressure on two big blood vessels – your aorta (a large artery) and the inferior vena cava (a large vein). This can affect the blood supply to both you and your baby, and pressure on it can make you feel breathless and dizzy.
You may find it more comfortable to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs to take the pressure off your back. Banana-shaped pregnancy pillows are good at supporting your back but a couple of ordinary pillows will also do the job.
Things to think about during week 16 of pregnancy
You’ll probably have your 16-week antenatal appointment this week, at which your midwife will go through the results with you from your earlier scan and blood tests. You’re also likely to have more blood and urine tests at this appointment. Your midwife will probably tell you about your 20-week anomaly scan that’s coming up in a few weeks, too.
Write down any worries
The appointment is a good chance to bring up any worries or concerns you may have so keep a notepad and pen close to hand to jot down anything you want to chat to your antenatal team about.
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat
Your midwife may well listen in to your baby’s heartbeat at your appointment this week – a really amazing experience. Don’t worry if you don’t hear a heartbeat – it’s not always possible and doesn’t mean anything is wrong. If your baby isn’t playing ball they’ll have another listen at your next check-up or may ask you to pop back sooner.