Weeks 18 to 22 of Your Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Fetus in uterus, with detail of development at 20 weeks pregnant


Your baby is continuing to develop quickly.

Sometime between 18 and 22 weeks, you'll probably start to feel your baby move. At first, these small fetal movements feel like fluttering or "butterflies." Or they may feel like gas bubbles. As your baby grows, these movements will become stronger. You may also notice that your baby hiccups. Babies at this stage can now suck their thumbs.

You may find that your nausea and fatigue are gone. You may feel better overall and have more energy than you did in your first trimester. But you might now also have some new discomforts, like sleep problems or leg cramps. Talk to your doctor about things you can do at home to ease these problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Ease sleep problems

  • Avoid caffeine in drinks or chocolate late in the day.
  • Get some exercise every day.
  • Take a warm shower or bath before bed.
  • Have a light snack or glass of milk at bedtime.
  • Do relaxation exercises in bed to calm your mind and body.
  • Support your legs and back with extra pillows. Try a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side.
  • Do not use sleeping pills or alcohol. They could harm your baby.

Ease leg cramps

  • Do not massage your calf during the cramp.
  • Sit on a firm bed or chair. Straighten your leg, and bend your foot (flex your ankle) slowly upward, toward your knee. Bend your toes up and down.
  • Stand on a cool, flat surface. Stretch your toes upward, and take small steps walking on your heels.
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle to help with muscle ache.

Prevent leg cramps

  • Be sure to get enough calcium. If you are worried that you are not getting enough, talk to your doctor.
  • Exercise every day, and stretch your legs before bed.
  • Take a warm bath before bed, and try leg warmers at night.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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