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.
You can access a sexing scan from this week onwards to reveal your baby's gender, our sexing scans include a short preview 4D ultrasound video on your phone.
Longer Appointments - Time to discuss choices with our expert staff
An Early Pregnancy Scan, also called a Viability or Dating ultrasound scan, will confirm a pregnancy, confirm the gestation age and establish an Estimated Due Date (EDD).
Reassurance Scans are performed at any stage from 14 weeks of pregnancy. This ultrasound scan is for parents to be who have any concerns about their pregnancy at this stage.
The Sexing Scan is performed from 16 weeks of pregnancy. This ultrasound scan is for parents to be who would like to know the sex of their baby earlier than the 20 week anomaly scan
Fetal Wellbeing and Growth ultrasound scans are performed from 24 weeks of pregnancy. The scan can even be performed if you have reached 40 weeks or have passed your due date.
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Honest Review of Our Patients
Excellent Team we met yesterday. From the wonderful and welcoming reception staff to meeting Belinda ‘B’. Belinda explained everything that was going to happen, made us feel really comfortable and relaxed. I could not recommend the clinic highly enough. Fantastic customer service and skilled medical team.
a month ago
All the staff were really nice to us . At the reception, the girls were smiling and welcoming. We were late and they managed to give us another quick appointment without waiting. The Lady who did a Scan was really good and professional. I was able to ask all questions I wanted and she was really reassuring.
a week ago
The Birth Company was such a pleasure to visit. I cannot thank Kate enough for all her patience, approachability and professionalism.
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