Your Pregnancy: Week 19
Visiting your doctor or midwife this week could be the appointment you’ve been waiting for: the second-trimester ultrasound. About halfway through most pregnancies, many women have an ultrasound as a routine procedure to check the baby’s size, organ development, overall health – and yes – even the baby’s sex. The technician will measure specific long bones like the leg and look at the development of the brain, heart and spine. You’ll most likely be asked to have a full bladder so the technician can have an easier time viewing all parts of your baby.
Your baby is now about the size of a mango, and he/she isn’t looking too pretty – even from a mother’s perspective. Vernix is beginning to coat the skin, which is a greasy, fat-like substance that provides insulation and regulates body heat as well as protects the skin since it is submerged in amniotic fluid. Once the vernix covers the body, the lanugo will begin to fade away. And once the fat is thick enough under the skin, the vernix will mostly dissipate by the time your baby is born.
If you haven’t felt the baby’s first movements yet (which is highly possible if it’s your first pregnancy), be on the lookout for the feeling of butterflies or popcorn popping in your stomach.
Talk to your partner about whether or not you want to know the baby’s sex at the upcoming ultrasound.
If you’re feeling stuffed up, try a saline nasal spray or humidifier instead of cold medications, but check with your doctor about safe decongestants.
Ladies, it’s time to (temporarily) retire the ultra-high heels and swap them out for more sensible 2-inch pumps. Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not Victoria Beckham.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
If I had to choose one ‘optional’ test to make mandatory, it would be the detailed anatomic survey done by ultrasound between weeks 18 and 22. Whether all women should have this screening is controversial, but I find it incredibly helpful in the management of my patients. It confirms the accurate due date and helps with major decisions that may occur closer to term, including induction of labor and weight estimates. It may not improve pregnancy outcomes for the mass population, but it makes a world of difference to each of my patients to know that their babies appear structurally normal and of the right proportion. I believe ultrasounds should be done by experts like perinatologists.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: Baby-Free Friends
Your friends without babies may have valid anxieties about what will happen to you now that you’re becoming a parent. Will you be boring? Will you be unable to carry on a dialogue that doesn’t contain some discussion of the baby? Will you care about their boring non-parent problems anymore? Having a baby changes your focus (sometimes even before conception), and early parenthood is often a total immersion experience. Your friends might accuse you of being “preoccupied” with the minutae of pregnancy or baby life or “obsessed” with mother/fatherhood when you feel like you’re just trying to do what it takes. You can try to explain to your friends just how hard or fun or miserable or meaningful it all is. But you can also forget the speeches and try to meet your friends on more common ground. Your friends, in turn, need to accept that now your life revolves around your new role, at least for a while. It can be hard to reassure your friends that you’ll be “back” when you’re so swamped in the prospect of – and soon the reality of – new parenthood that you don’t feel so sure of it yourself. But eventually most people’s interests will expand to include things that do not involve babies. If you do remain entirely baby-centric, you’ll probably find that your friendships adjust accordingly.
Also, you may not be aware of what your friends really think about kids. A new baby can heighten anxiety and increase pressure for friends who are ambivalent – or not in the right situation to have babies themselves. Friends who have decided not to have kids may question their choices or feel surer than ever when they see what you’re going through.
What about friends who are actively trying to have kids and are dealing with infertility or loss? It’s hard to know how to act around someone who’s desperately longing for something you’ve got. Issues of guilt and jealousy can be difficult to talk about at a time when joy seems like the only acceptable emotion to voice. Talking about this stuff is never easy, but your friend who is trying to conceive (or mourning a loss) might appreciate the support of your awareness and feel relieved if she’s given permission to feel a bit of inevitable pain in the face of your happiness. It’s obviously a bad idea to gloat about your baby, but painting a false picture of parental misery can be transparent and insulting. Talking about the weird stuff you both feel can alleviate tension and remind you of what connected you in the first place. It can help to acknowledge the loss of the friendship as it was. It’s important to enter into conversations with an open mind and with the understanding that you both may have some less-than-happy things to say. You may have to let your friendship fade into the background for awhile while your friend takes on her own challenges or comes to terms with her situation. If you do feel like your friend would rather not be in touch right now, try not to take it to heart. If there’s a way you can let her know that you care about her without pressuring her, great. You may even want to tell her directly that you’re letting her take the lead. Otherwise, it will hopefully just be a matter of time before you’re able to reconnect.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.