Pregnancy weeks 18, 19 and 20

At this point, your body weight may have increased by three to six kilograms, and your stomach will of course be visibly larger.

Ultrasound image

Illustration: Antonia Johnson / Mostphotos

Foetal movements

It is normal to gain 11-16 kilograms in weight during a pregnancy. Much of this weight gain is due to the fact that you are producing more blood and amniotic fluid, and the fact that your womb, placenta and baby are all growing.

In some women, the navel bulges outwards. This is completely harmless and will return to normal by itself after birth.

You will probably be able to feel your baby moving by now. Women who have given birth before often detect signs of life in their baby earlier than those expecting their first child.

The movements may feel like gas in your stomach or bowel movements. At first, it may feel like a tiny shivering or tingling in the stomach, and you may not be quite sure what it is.

Your baby’s movements will gradually become more apparent, and you will be in no doubt that it is your baby that is moving.

The fat layer provides protection

The baby has now begun to make faces and suck its thumb. It can move by sound, distinguish between light and darkness, and you may be able to feel hiccuping in the form of regular little bumps which come and go.

This happens because the baby is producing urine and drinking amniotic fluid as part of the purification of amniotic fluid. The baby is now covered in a layer of white fat, which attaches to the hairs on its body. This layer of fat will protect the skin for as long as the baby remains in the amniotic fluid.

The baby will weigh around 350 grams during week 20 of the pregnancy and will be about the size of a honeydew melon. At this stage, most babies are about the same size. This makes it beneficial to determine the term using ultrasound at this time.