16 Weeks

Get ready for a growth spurt. In the next few weeks, your baby will double his weight and add inches to his length. Right now, he’s about the size of an avocado: 4 1/2 inches long (head to rump) and 3 1/2 ounces.

How your baby’s growing:

His legs are much more developed, his head is more erect than it has been, and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head. His ears are close to their final position, too. The patterning of his scalp has begun, though his locks aren’t recognizable yet. He’s even started growing toenails. And there’s a lot happening inside as well. For example, his heart is now pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to develop.

How your life’s changing:

The top of your uterus is about halfway between your pubic bone and your navel, and the round ligaments that support it are thickening and stretching as it grows. You’re probably feeling a whole lot better as you settle into pregnancy, too. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and “glowing” skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

Soon you’ll experience one of the most wonderful moments of pregnancy – feeling your baby move. While some women notice “quickening” as early as 16 weeks, many don’t feel their baby move until about 18 weeks or more. (And if this is your first baby, don’t be too impatient – you may not be aware of your baby’s movements until 20 weeks or so.) The earliest movements may feel like little flutters, gas bubbles, or even like popcorn popping. Over the following weeks they’ll grow stronger and you’ll be able to feel them much more frequently.

3 Questions About…Gaining weight

Q1. How much weight should I gain now?

Aim to gain about 12 to 14 pounds this trimester (toward a total of 25 to 35 for your whole pregnancy) if you started your pregnancy at an average weight. Your caregiver may advise that you gain a little more or less if you started your pregnancy over- or underweight or you’re carrying twins or more.

Q2. How can I keep my weight gain on track?

During pregnancy, most women need to eat about 300 calories a day more than their usual daily intake. (The total amount of calories you’ll need depends on your weight and activity level.)

If you’re gaining too much: Some women find that they’re gaining weight too quickly. It’s not a good idea to go on a low-calorie diet or skip meals during pregnancy, though.

Instead, try these suggestions to help slow your weight gain:

  • Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that includes adequate protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and a small amount of healthy fat.
  • Eat vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products, and skip processed foods, packaged snacks, and sugar-loaded desserts.
  • Keep healthy, filling snacks around, such as low-fat cheese and yogurt, baby carrots, and fresh fruit such as apples or bananas. You’ll be less susceptible to junk-food snack attacks.
  • Choose a tasty alternative to a fatty food. For example: Nonfat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, a bagel instead of a doughnut, or air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips. (Get more ideas.)
  • Drink water instead of reaching for a glass of juice.
  • With your caregiver’s okay, get regular exercise. If you have trouble getting started or keeping to a routine, find an exercise buddy who’ll go for a daily walk or swim with you. This will help to keep you motivated. Even a 20-minute daily walk at lunchtime will make a difference.

If you’re having a hard time gaining enough: Some women find themselves struggling to budge the scale. Here are a few tips to help you put on the pounds:

  • Drink a milk shake every day (add in fresh fruit for vitamin C). You’ll get a calorie boost and you’ll benefit from the calcium in the ice cream.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods with good fats, such as avocados and nuts.
  • Try eating dried fruit. It’s not as filling as fresh fruit, so you tend to eat more of it and pack in more healthy calories.
  • In addition to your meals, eat frequent snacks.
  • Remind yourself that you’re supposed to be putting on weight now, for yourself and for your baby’s well-being. Then chow down!
Q3. How will the weight I gain during pregnancy affect my body?

At least some of the aches and pains you’ll feel as pregnancy progresses are related to your changing body shape and the increasing weight of your womb. Backaches are common, and you may begin to feel more clumsy and prone to falls. Expect your skin to stretch, too, as your belly and breasts expand, which may result in stretch marks.

You may be most worried about whether you’ll be able to shed all your “baby fat” after your baby’s born. It may take a while, but if you eat right and exercise you’ll most likely get rid of the pounds eventually.

You’ll have an easier time getting back in shape if you’re active now.

  • It’s easy to obsess about your weight during pregnancy, especially if you’re having a hard time staying within the 25- to 35-pound gain recommended for most women of normal weight. How’s it going for you?
This Week’s Activity:

Plan a romantic getaway – even if you stay home. Once your baby arrives, it will be very hard for you and your partner to slip away for a weekend alone. Don’t miss this chance to kick back together. And don’t wait much longer because by your third trimester you may feel too tired and achy to hit the road. If you can’t get out of town, plan local activities you can enjoy together – even dinner and a movie counts.

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