All About Baby
By week 16, your baby-to-be’s body is doing more to support itself. Her kidneys function and produce urine that then passes through the umbilical cord. Within her stomach, bile is secreted, although she relies on you for all of her nutrients. Her appearance changes as her scalp hair grows and may even have color. Her developing facial muscles make it possible for her to open and close her mouth, maybe even give you a smile or two.
This week, your little one is around 4.5 inches long (crown to rump) and weighs in around 3 ounces. Baby is about the size of an avocado.
All About You
Now that it’s finally sinking in that this baby thing is really going to happen, it’s time to think about where it’s going to happen! Plan your trip to the local hospitals and birth centers — and it’s not too soon to think about your birthing plan.
Speaking of trips … this is a great time to plan a getaway, too!
In the coming weeks you should start to feel your baby move. You’ll only feel a flutter at first, but before long you’ll be able to distinguish kicks and hiccups, too. As your baby-to-be gets bigger, expect more soreness in your abdomen and back. Your breasts may also feel sore and larger as the tissue fills in and readies for milk production. As pregnancy hormones continue to pulse through your system to direct your body in baby production, you may experience headaches, dizziness, and even mood changes.
Travel While Pregnant
Your second trimester starts a window of weeks when you’re feeling better than you have in a long time (goodbye nausea, hello baby bump). Your pregnancy glow is in full bloom, and your rounded belly fits beautifully into maternity pants. If you’re going to travel at any point in your pregnancy, now is the time.
Physicians advise against travel in the first trimester due to the increased risk of miscarriage. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), travel during the third trimester is also discouraged because of the chance of going into early labor (no one wants to go into preterm labor on the beach in Oahu). With a few safety precautions in mind you can head off for some R&R before your days and nights are filled with feedings and diapers.
Talk to your healthcare provider: Before you make any plans, discuss travel with your healthcare provider. While you may be feeling good, she needs to evaluate your health before you go. Have a few destinations in mind when you talk to her about your travel plans. For example, if you’ve had problems with water retention, she may advise you against a humid locale, which may aggravate your condition. Also, ask her to copy your prenatal records so that you can bring them with you — just in case. And don’t forget to make sure that you have her number handy on those records if you need to call her.
Bring an approved first aid packet: You should pack a basic first aid kit, filled with medicines that come in handy when traveling (for instance Tylenol, anti-diarrhea, heartburn, and cold medicines). Review with your physician any over-the-counter and prescription medications that you plan to bring on your trip. Not all over-the-counter medicines are safe for pregnancy.
Plan on some restrictions: Keep in mind while making your travel arrangements that you won’t be able to do everything, even with a physician’s OK. Resorts, theme parks, and other travel providers may have restrictions on pregnant women for insurance reasons — they don’t want you going into preterm labor or having complications any more than you do. Plan on sitting out the thrill rides and skipping scuba diving in favor of more relaxing vacation pursuits, such as time at the spa.
While you’re there: Pregnancy is not the time for adventure travel. Keep a leisurely pace during your travels and take care or yourself. You might be tempted to do everything available and be out all day, but this can cause problems. Walking too much can lead to uncomfortable swelling.
Staying hydrated is key, too. Dehydration can cause preterm labor pains. So, be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent potty breaks. (Avoiding bathroom breaks can aggravate your bladder and lead to urinary tract infections.)
Don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider at any time during your trip. If you have questions about how you’re feeling or medications that you plan on taking, give your physician a quick call.
Where to go: Where you choose to travel depends on your physician’s guidelines. An hour-long car ride might be preferable over a long plane trip if you’ve had concerns during your pregnancy.
You may also want to choose U.S. beaches over foreign locales. Some foreign destinations, especially those in third world countries, have amazing resort facilities but few medical care options if you were to have a problem.
Q & A
What’s on your mind during Week 16? Other women have asked…
Q: What is this weird dark line on my belly?
Linea negra (or linea nigra) literally means “black line” in Latin. This line is a dark, thin, and straight vertical streak that may appear sometime in the second trimester. It runs from just above the pubic bone, through your belly button, and can go as high as your lowest rib. Read more about linea negra.
Q: Is plane travel safe during pregnancy?
Travel in the first trimester can be uncomfortable for some women due to morning sickness. The second trimester and early in the third trimester seem to be the safest and most comfortable time for women to travel. But make sure you check with your airline for any restrictions they may have. Most often, you’ll find that airlines restrict travel for women past 36 weeks. Read more about traveling while pregnant.
The Power of Involved Fathers
Because the focus of pregnancy is primarily on the woman and unborn baby, many men enter fatherhood not understanding the importance of their roles. However, fathers are incredibly vital in their families’ lives, as current research clearly points out. Recent findings have shown that when fathers believe that they’re essential to the lives and health of their children, they become more involved.
But what difference does your presence as a dad really make?
Children of fathers who are involved in their lives are more likely to perform better in school, display higher levels of social competence, and experience fewer behavioral problems, according to studies performed by the US Department of Health and Human Services. These lucky kids are more likely to have healthy self concepts and be equipped to deal with life’s challenges, feel better about their lives as adults, and also tend to have healthier marriages. Even more incredibly, daughters of involved fathers have higher self-esteem and begin sexual activity later in life than girls of less involved fathers.
One of the biggest reasons for this remarkable difference between children of delinquent fathers and children of dotting fathers is that being loved, adored, attended to, and stimulated by two people increases a child’s sense of self, her intellect and social skills, and so much more.
This certainly doesn’t negate the power of mothers, but rather reminds you that father involvement makes a significant difference in the life of your baby. Don’t ever forget how much of a positive effect your involvement has on your child … no matter how old he or she is.