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.
Your baby at 19 weeks
Your baby is busy this week developing the parts of his brain that are responsible for senses, and much more besides.
- 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.
- 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 heart beat.
- 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 body parts 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.
What size is the baby at 19 weeks?
At week 19 your baby is around 15cm long and about the size of a mango.
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 round your body to take oxygen to both your organs and your baby's developing 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 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 in pregnancy, but always ask your GP before taking any medication.
Feeling your baby move… or not
You may be able to detect 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 on whether this is your first pregnancy or not (you usually feel movement earlier with a second or subsequent pregnancy).
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, and you’ll just be stuck in an embarrassing clinch with you. The movements need to be stronger for those not carrying your baby to feel them.
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 all you need.
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 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.