Your baby will double its weight in the next 3 weeks. You may now be able to feel the first flutters of movement from the baby – known as ‘quickening’
Ultrasound image of fetus at 16 weeks gestation.
The sixteenth week of pregnancy marks the start of a 3-week growth spurt. The fetus currently measures between 10.9cm and 11.9cm (crown to rump) and weighs around 78g, however this weight is likely to double during the coming 3 weeks.
By this stage, the fetus is inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid through the lungs, and both the circulatory system and urinary tract are fully functioning. Muscles are continuing to develop and grow stronger. In particular, the muscles in the back and around and spine have gained strength and the fetus is now able to stretch and straighten more.
The fetus is able to hear external sounds, such as music or other peoples’ voices. In addition to this, both the eyebrows and eyelashes are now fully developed. The eyes, although still beneath closed eyelids, are now capable of making small side-to-side movement and are even able to perceive light.
Lanugo – the downy hair that has been sprouting to cover the fetus’ delicate skin – now covers the entire body and serves the double purpose of protecting the delicate, paper-thin skin and also helping to maintain a constant body temperature (half a degree warmer than your own body temperature). This fine hair is usually completely shed before birth.
You may now be able to feel the first flutters of movement from the fetus – known as ‘quickening’. However, many women do not experience this until later in their pregnancy.
In line with the growth spurt of the fetus, you are also likely to be gaining weight. You should aim for slow and steady weight gain and try and eat healthily – maximising nutritious foods and minimising ‘junk’ foods. You may also be finding that your breasts are continuing to grow. You may find it helpful to buy a more supportive bra and go for a fitting to ensure that you are wearing the correct size.
You may experience a ‘twinge’ of pain in your sides if you move suddenly. This pain is due to the ligaments on either side of your uterus and pelvis stretching to accommodate your expanding uterus. These pains are normal, but if they continue for a period of days, or become more severe, you should seek the advice of your midwife. You may also be suffering from lower back pain. This is caused by your back being forced to curve to accommodate your ever-increasing uterus. It may help your aching muscles to take a warm bath.
Many women also find prenatal massage beneficial. You should always seek advice from your midwife before using essential oils during massage.
Any vaginal bleeding or significant abdominal pain is not normal at this time. The tummy is starting to get noticeably bigger. Pain is probably due to stretching of the ligaments however there are sometimes more significant causes such as urinary tract infection or fibroids. There may be some normal vaginal discharge but this should be constant in colour and quantity. Many women have pregnancy related headaches which usually improve with time. The stretching and stressing of bones, ligaments and muscles often leads to pains particularly in the spine and pelvis.
By now you should have had contact with your local GP or midwife. They will be able to give you general advice and your pregnancy blood testing should have been done. If they find you have a significant issue they may refer you to the local hospital's ultrasound department. An ultrasound scan should be reassuring particularly if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding. If you have specific risk issues you will be referred to a consultant specialist.
If you choose to do so you can self refer yourself to a private clinic. There is no need for a referral letter. In a private clinic you can see a doctor or a midwife. An ultrasound scan is available at short notice to provide reassurance as are other investigations. A consultant specialist will be available to assess and advise you about particular concerns. Pain in the bones, ligaments and muscles is amenable to treatment by an osteopath.
' Professional and reassuring 'Helen Campbell
The sonographer was ready as soon as I arrived, and she was extremely calming, personable and professional. The scan and blood test where efficient without feeling rushed and all very easy. These appointments can feel uneasy and make you feel anxious but I felt reassured and in professional hands the whole time
I saw Kate throughout my first pregnancy and am now doing so again with my second. She is absolutely amazing, she explains everything really clearly, and has answered all sorts of bizarre questions and worries I have had. On top of being clinically excellent she is also just the loveliest person and always a pleasure to see.Sarah Elliott
We had the harmony test with the Birth Company and had a reassurance scan with sonographer Kirsty McGarry who was absolutely lovely and really put our minds at rest. We had been scared by our NHS dating scan and left feeling like there was something wrong. We explained the situation and was treated very professionally and with good care. Also speedy appointments also as I had phone in the morning and got an appointment by afternoon. So thankful.Ashley and Tom
Really friendly, efficient service. Great experience overall. Had the Panorama. My appointment was with Kate who was absolutely fantastic. The results came really quickly. Have a comparison with private healthcare elsewhere and must say that The Birth Company was just how I would like to be treated when I pay for medical services - attentively, calmly, friendly, in a pleasant environment that doesn't look like hospital. Top marks!Anna
' Efficient, friendly and always on hand to provide last minute appointments 'Hannah Murphy
The Birth Company has been excellent, providing timely scans and blood tests during my IVF treatment abroad. Staff are always friendly and extremely efficient. I would highly recommend coming here.
' Professional and friendly 'Lyndsey Dilla
When I first contacted the Birth Company I spoke to Danielle. She was fantastic. She went above & beyond to put me at easy & make the journey from Kent as stress free as possible. Every staff member that myself and my husband have come into contact with have been approachable, professional and friendly. Kate scanned me the first time and put me completely at easy. Lisa on reception is professional and very approachable. Highly recommended
' Highly recommended 'Emelie
Donald was so lovely! I was so nervous as I have a bad history and he was super quick and confirmed my baby's heartbeat as quickly as he could. He spent time showing me the baby and the anatomy and it was the best money I have ever spent! The reception girls were lovely too - considering they deal with babies day in day out they were super excited for me! Thank you so much one and all! If only I lived in London and could have all my scans with you!
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