Feeling fluttery at 18 weeks
At around 18 weeks, your baby’s ears should be functioning, so they may start to react to loud noises outside the womb1. They may make kicks and rolls2 but if this is your first pregnancy, you will be less likely to notice these soft, fluttery sensations. You may even pass them off as indigestion1.
“…they may start to react to loud noises outside the womb…”
Inside your baby’s tiny lungs, air sacs called alveoli are starting to develop3 and it’s common for your baby to experience hiccups at this stage2, although it’s unlikely for you to feel them. You may notice their periods of sleep and active wakefulness, though. Many mums report feeling more movement after a meal or late at night3.
Between now and 20 weeks, you’re likely to have an anomaly scan. This is to check that your baby is growing and developing healthily. Your midwife or doctor will give you more information about this. The NHS offers more in-depth advice about this routine screening4.
Eating for energy
It may come as a disappointment to hear that energy requirements during pregnancy are not as high as previously thought. It’s true that energy, in the form of calories, is needed to support your baby’s growth. It is also necessary for building fat stores in preparation for breastfeeding. However, most mums-to-be reduce their level of physical activity as pregnancy progresses, which may compensate for the increased energy needs.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering the quality of what you eat rather than the quantity. For example, a few Brazil nuts can provide a greater source of nutrition than a biscuit.
“You only need to increase your calorie intake in your third trimester.”
Current recommendations from the UK Department of Health state that pregnant women need an extra 200 calories per day for their last trimester only5.
Many women report feeling faint from time to time during pregnancy. This common symptom is mainly due to hormonal changes6. It may also be linked to the fact that your heart is working much harder than usual to support your pregnancy, pumping the increased blood volume around your body. Meanwhile, your growing baby may be putting pressure on blood vessels, which can leave you feeling lightheaded.
Take extra care with your body, standing up slowly after sitting or lying down. Eating little and often throughout the day can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, helping to maintain steadier energy levels. Be sure to sip water regularly and choose healthy, wholesome snacks that will deliver the nutrients your baby needs, while providing a steady release of energy.
Try these healthy, energy-giving snacks:
- A handful of apricots or other dried fruit
- A small bowl of natural yogurt with fresh fruit
- Sardines on wholegrain toast
- Wholegrain crackers with cheese
- A fruit smoothie
- A wholegrain wrap with chicken and salad leaves
- A slice of wholegrain toast with peanut butter
- Oatcakes with pasteurised soft cheese
- Hummus with carrot sticks