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Pregnancy

16 Weeks Pregnant

16 weeks pregnant fetus

At 16 weeks pregnant, your baby now has distinguishable genitals and can hear your voice. You may be noticing some positive pregnancy side effects such as thicker hair and better nails. 

Your baby

This week your doctor can most likely tell your baby’s gender via ultrasound. Not only have your baby’s ears moved closer into place over the last weeks, but she can hear your voice! The bones in her ears are starting to form, allowing her to hear. Lanugo (fine hair) continues to grow on her body, but she’s also growing eyelashes and eyebrows. Her heart is still pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to grow as she further develops. 

On an ultrasound, you can see her movements. You might even see her making sucking motions with her mouth. As her central nervous system develops, she is able to make coordinated movement of her arms and legs.

Your body

Some women will start to feel the baby moving this week. This early movement is called “quickening” and many women say it feels like popcorn or bubbles popping. You might not realize at first that it’s your baby moving. If you don’t feel her this week, don’t worry, it is easy to miss because the amniotic fluid cushions any movement your baby makes. You’ll notice her moving soon. 

Your blood volume is also continuing to increase to support her growth; this may cause nosebleeds and visible veins in your legs. You might also notice thicker hair and longer, stronger nails; this is thanks to estrogen, and possibly the prenatal vitamins you’re taking. 

Your uterus is also shifting upwards a bit, which may alleviate some of the need to urinate, but that will come back as your baby continues to grow and take up more space. You might also notice that you start to be a bit forgetful around this point—“pregnancy brain” is a real side effect of pregnancy, but doctors aren’t sure what causes it. It’s probably a combination of hormonal and biological changes, as well as the fact that you’ve got a lot on your mind right now.  

Your mind

As you start to feel your baby move, your sense of excitement may increase. The more you feel your baby move, the more settled you may feel. For some women, though, this can create more anxiety when they don’t feel their baby moving. Remember that your baby is still small and that not all women feel much movement now. Take the time to add extra self-care in while you’re still feeling good to relax and recharge.

Check-ups

Many women have a check-up this week, and you may notice that these exams are becoming fairly routine. You’ll continue to do a urine test to check for signs of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and you’ll also have your weight checked. Your doctor may start measuring your pregnant belly to check the height of your uterus or listen to your baby’s heartbeat via Doppler or ultrasound. 

If you’ve had abnormal results from your MMS or other earlier tests, your doctor may recommend an amniocentesis. This is another elective test, but is diagnostic in that you can receive definitive information about your baby’s health and development. The “amnio” generally happens between 15 and 20 weeks, but may happen earlier or later as needed. The test is done by inserting a needle into the amniotic sac through your belly. Amniotic fluid is collected in the needle; this is guided through ultrasound to make sure that the needle is entering safely. 

Amniocentesis can determine chromosomal abnormalities including Down syndrome, neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and genetic disorders including cystic fibrosis. You can also determine paternity through the cells collected during this test. There are some risks during amniocentesis. Your health care provider can help you determine if this test is right for you and your baby.

What to do this week

  • If you’re suffering from bulging leg veins, purchase compression socks and elevate your feet.
  • If you will be traveling by plane , try to get up and walk at least every hour to improve circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the legs (DVT).
  • Schedule your level two-ultrasound, often referred to as the anatomy scan. This happens around 20 weeks.
  • Talk or sing to your baby since she can hear you now.

View sources

Cognitive impairment during pregnancy: a meta-analysis

Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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