19 Weeks

Your baby’s sensory development is exploding! Her brain is designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch. Some research suggests that she may be able to hear your voice now, so don’t be shy about reading aloud, talking to her, or singing a happy tune if the mood strikes you.

How your baby’s growing:

Your baby weighs about 8 1/2 ounces and measures 6 inches, head to bottom – about the size of a large heirloom tomato. Her arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of her body now. Her kidneys continue to make urine and the hair on her scalp is sprouting. A waxy protective coating called the vernix caseosa is forming on her skin to prevent it from pickling in the amniotic fluid.

How your life’s changing:

Think you’re big now? You’ll start growing even faster in the weeks to come. As a result, you may notice some achiness in your lower abdomen or even an occasional brief, stabbing pain on one or both sides – especially when you shift position or at the end of an active day. Most likely, this is round ligament pain. The ligaments that support your uterus are stretching to accommodate its increasing weight. This is nothing to be alarmed about, but call your practitioner if the pain continues even when you’re resting or becomes severe.

You may be noticing some skin changes, too. Are the palms of your hands red? Nothing to worry about – it’s from the extra estrogen. You may also have patches of darkened skin caused by a temporary increase in pigment. When these darker patches appear on your upper lip, cheeks, and forehead, they’re called chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy.” You may also notice some darkening of your nipples, freckles, scars, underarms, inner thighs, and vulva. That darkened line running from your belly button to your pubic bone is called the linea nigra, or “dark line.”

These darkened spots will probably fade shortly after delivery. In the meantime, protect yourself from the sun, which intensifies the pigment changes. Cover up, wear a brimmed hat, and use sunscreen when you’re outdoors. And if you’re self-conscious about your “mask,” a little concealing makeup can work wonders.

Decision Guide: Naming your baby

For many couples, settling on a name for their baby is a lot of fun. For others, it’s a tortuous process of negotiation. Either way, it’s an important decision because you’re choosing something that will last a lifetime (unless your little one decides to rename herself along the way).

Here are some factors to consider when you’re deciding on a name:

  • Sound and compatibility How your baby’s name sounds when it’s said aloud is one of the most essential things to think about. Is it melodious? Harsh? Does it go well with your last name? One thing to avoid: Choosing a first name that ends in the same sound as the beginning of your last name.
  • Uniqueness An unusual name has the advantage of making your child stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, a name no one has heard of and few can pronounce can bring attention your child might rather avoid. Spelling variations can help make a name unique, but choosing a name with numerous spellings can cause confusion in your child’s life for years to come.
  • Relatives and friends Many parents choose to name their babies after a grandparent, another relative, or a close friend. Don’t want too many Michaels in your house? Look way back in your family tree for hidden treasures. And if you’re worried about hurt feelings, consider a first name from one side of the family and a middle name from the other. According to a BabyCenter survey, middle names are a must for most parents; 98 percent give their child a middle name, with 7 percent of those parents giving their child two or more middle names.
  • Ancestry and heritage Your child’s heritage is an essential part of who she is, and you may want her name to reflect that. Skim history books focusing on your family’s country of origin to find appropriate possibilities.
  • Meaning No one is likely to treat your daughter Ingrid differently because her name means “hero’s daughter,” but the derivation of your baby’s name is something you may want to think about. Use BabyCenter’s Baby Name tool to learn the meaning of over 5,000 names.
  • Initials and nicknames People, especially kids, can be cruel when it comes to nicknames, so try to anticipate any potentially embarrassing ones. Consider your child’s initials as well, so you don’t inadvertently saddle her with a doozy like Z.I.T. or P.E.E.
  • Many people going through pregnancy like to refer to their growing baby by name – or nickname. What about you?
This Week’s Activity

Start your childcare search. It may seem early to you, but the best centers often have long waiting lists and it’s easier to go on tours now than when you have an infant in tow. You have many options, so review the pluses and minuses of daycare centers, nanny care, home daycare, and relative care. Put your name on a few lists even if you aren’t sure what you’ll do. When the time comes, you may be grateful for the options.

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