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18 WEEKS, 4 DAYS

150 days to go...

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ultrasound of human fetus at 18 weeks and 4 days

Your baby today

This is a side view ultrasound scan with the baby's head in the top left. Your baby appears completely human with all fingers and toes fully developed. The skin is now covered with lanugo, fine protective hair.

You will probably not be able to feel your baby move yet, but he is incredibly active inside your uterus. Somersaults and stretches are part of his daily routine, as are thumb and toe sucking. Your baby moves when awake and asleep: he has no control over his movements at this stage. Ultrasound scans reveal a huge range of movement in between inactive periods.

There's no harm in encouraging your baby to move to increase the likelihood of you feeling his wiggles.

If you're waiting to feel your baby's first movements, be patient. Although it's reassuring to feel him wiggling around, becoming stressed about it won't be good for either of you. Remember, many pregnant women-first-time moms especially-don't feel those first flutterings until 18 to 20 weeks or later. Also remember that while you're awake, your baby spends a lot of time sleeping.

There are a few ways you can try to stimulate your baby into action-the more he moves, the more chance there is that you'll feel it. First of all, stop and relax. If you've been busy all day, you may have been distracted and not felt your baby's movements. Keeping still may also waken him, since he isn't being "rocked" within your uterus.

Try playing loud music to him, which will not only wake him, but also encourage him to respond. Some women report that their unborn babies "kicked" to a rhythm!

It may also help to lie down on your side, with your belly supported. Doing this may stimulate your baby to move, as he changes his position to accommodate yours. If all else fails, have a sweet, icy cold drink, which may do the trick.

Ask A... Doctor

My baby seems to "jump" when he hears loud noises-is this likely or am I imagining it?

Yes, this is common. Research has shown that a baby can react to sounds in the uterus from as early as nine weeks' gestation.

Premature babies react to sounds with a "startle reflex," so this provides strong evidence that babies in the uterus will hear and react to loud sounds, too, possibly with sudden movements.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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