19 weeks pregnant

By week 19, your baby is starting to become a proper, interesting person in his own right, or is at least laying down the foundations for doing so. He's getting ready to experience all the wonderful sounds, smells and sights of the outside world, and he's growing at a rate now, too.

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Your 19-week bump

You've probably noticed a proper rounding of your belly by now, and your growing bump may start to catch the eye of those around you as well. This varies hugely from woman to woman, of course, so don't worry if you don't look particularly pregnant at this stage. As ever, your midwife will be keeping a close eye on you.

What size is the baby at 19 weeks?
baby size tomato

At week 19 your baby is around 15cm, or 6 inches, long or, in fruit terms, about the size of an heirloom tomato.

Your baby's movement

You may be starting to feel your baby's movements by now but don't worry if you can't – it can depend on all sorts of things, including where your baby is lying, where your placenta is, and whether this is your first pregnancy or not (you usually feel movement earlier with a second or subsequent pregnancy). It isn't unusual to start feeling the first flutterings at between 18 and 20 weeks.
The 20-week scan was reassuring because I could see the baby kicking but couldn't feel a thing!

If you place your partner's or a friend's hands on your stomach to share the moment, you can guarantee they won't feel it yet. The movements need to be stronger for anyone but you to feel them.

Your baby at 19 weeks

This week, your baby is busy this week developing the parts of his brain that are responsible for senses, and much more besides.

19 weeks pregnant

  • At 19 weeks his nervous system is getting pretty sophisticated. The areas of his brain that allow the senses to work are well developed so he can smell, and his taste buds can detect a sweet taste. He's already developing connections which will eventually cause him to prefer one taste, smell or sound over another.
  • A thick, waxy protective coating, called vernix caseosa (or simply vernix), will start to develop which will take up the job of protecting your baby from the acidic qualities of the amniotic fluid and stops them from looking too prune-like when they come out.
  • Most excitingly, he can also hear better and will jump if startled by a loud noise such as a door slamming or a hand dryer being switched on. Sounds are muffled to him because he's surrounded by amniotic fluid but even so, he can hear your tummy rumbling, the blood whooshing through the umbilical cord and your heartbeat.
  • After he's born, if you lay him on your chest on the left-hand side, he may well be comforted by the familiar sound of your heart. Research shows that the first sounds your baby will first hear are tones at 500HZ (like a guitar string), followed by lower tones, before being able to tune in to higher ones. He will also learn to recognise your voice over the next few weeks so by the time he's born he'll be hanging onto your every word.
  • He can tell the difference between light and dark.
  • His movements are still getting stronger and more controlled and precise (rather than randomly waving his arms and legs about). If you're already feeling your baby’s movements, you may notice him kick or even feel a tiny elbow or foot digging in, but each foot is still tiny – only the size of one of your fingernails.
  • Genitals are becoming more defined so if you want to find out the sex at your 20-week scan, the sonographer may well be able to tell from the ultrasound. If your baby is a girl, her vagina will be becoming hollow, and if a boy he will be developing a solid swelling that will become his scrotum. His testes won't move into his scrotum for many weeks.
  • Your baby is also growing rudimentary breast tissue, and both boys and girls will be developing nipples now. No, we don't know why boys need nipples either.

How is your body changing at 19 weeks pregnant?

Your body is pretty busy at 19 weeks, making red blood cells by the bucketload. And boy, do you need them. You have a much larger than usual blood volume and you need to get more blood cells into that fluid circulating around your body to take oxygen to both your organs and your baby's body.

This is the time when your red blood cell production catches up with the extra fluid currently in circulation in your, erm… circulation. The good news is this should make you feel more energetic. Your midwives will check your blood for iron levels at your antenatal appointments to ensure that you aren't developing anaemia, and if your iron levels look low they may offer you iron supplements.

Having tailed off a little in the ballooning stakes at the end of the first trimester, your breasts are gearing up for another growth offensive. They’re getting ready for breastfeeding and the glands that produce milk are getting bigger, which in turn means the blood supply to your breasts also increases. Your growing boobs make up a substantial part of your pregnancy weight gain, too – as much as a kilo!

Pregnancy symptoms in week 19

As your baby grows, he'll start to make himself known – in ways that are both welcome and less than welcome…

Heartburn

Heartburn plagues about half of all women throughout their pregnancy and it often gets worse as the weeks go on and your baby gets bigger, pressing down on your stomach. Try to avoid eating huge meals, especially just before bed. Lying flat also makes it worse as it’s easier for acid to creep back up, so try sleeping with a couple of extra pillows to keep your head higher than the rest of your body.

You can take antacids and there is evidence that stronger tablets, such as proton pump inhibitors that stop your stomach making acid, are safe during pregnancy, but always ask your GP before taking any medication.

Round ligament stretching

You might well be feeling a bit of ligament pain in your abdomen, still, as your baby continues to grow, and the ligaments either side of your uterus stretch to accommodate your little one.

Leg cramps

During the second and third trimester, women often find they get leg cramps. While no one is really sure what causes them (although 'the rollercoaster of hormones that plague a pregnant woman' seems a good place to start), they're nothing to worry about. Try getting up and flexing your ankles, or standing on a cold surface, to ease them.

Patches of darker skin

They tell you to start tracking movement at about 26-28 weeks so a fair way off yet. The baby is still tiny so has lots of space to be moving in without you feeling.

Extra oestrogen means you might see patches of dark skin popping up, or darkening of your nipples and freckles. This can appear on your face, too, often on the cheeks and forehead. This is called the 'mask of pregnancy' and will (thankfully) fade after the birth. Just remember to wear plenty of sun protection in the meantime, to prevent the patches from getting darker.

Things to think about during week 19 of pregnancy

Week 19 is a good time to take stock of your diet again and make sure you and your baby are getting everything you need. You'll find your body changing faster week by week now, and it's a good idea to support that growth with the best fuel possible.

Eating well for your stage of pregnancy

With all those red blood cells you’re building this week, it’s essential you keep up your iron levels. Foods that are rich in iron include red meat, pulses and beans, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, and fortified cereals like Weetabix. Vitamin C helps iron be absorbed into the body so pour yourself a glass of orange juice with that, too.

If your iron levels run low, your midwives might suggest you take an iron supplement. It’s worth knowing that these can often ‘block you up’ a bit so while you’re upping your iron intake, make sure you get plenty of fibre, too. Dried apricots are great as they’re high in iron as well as being particularly good at ‘getting things moving’ if you do find yourself suffering from constipation. This is a common pregnancy problem because your digestive system runs more slowly than usual to allow your body to absorb more nutrients from your food. To combat this, try to ensure that fruit, veg and other fibrous foods make up a quarter to a third of your diet.

If I wear clothes that are not tight people do not realise that I am pregnant and it has only been the last week or so that people have started to notice my bump.

If your bowels are sluggish do not take any laxatives that have an effect on your bowel by speeding it up, as these are drugs that can also make your uterus contract. Not a good thing for now. What you can do is go for regular walks and drink plenty of fluids, particularly if you’re exercising as you get hot and dehydrated more easily during pregnancy. Carrying a bottle of water with you to sip at from time to time is a good way to remember to get enough.

What Mumsnetters say

I am 19 weeks pregnant and have got a huge appetite. I can eat a huge dinner and still feel absolutely starving, I am just always hungry to a point where I feel sick.

I do have a massive bump and much bigger norks than usual. My clothes still fit elsewhere.

I am currently 19+4 and think I have been feeling baby move for a week or so.

It’s not uncommon to not feel the baby move yet. The sensation is often mistaken for trapped wind as it’s nothing like big kicks and jabs yet.