You’ve reached the 16 week mark in your pregnancy. Congratulations! You’re officially almost halfway through your pregnancy journey. The second trimester is in full swing and often considered the golden weeks of pregnancy when side effects typically subside and you can start to enjoy the magic of pregnancy a bit more.
At 16 weeks pregnant, you and your growing baby are going through many changes. Let’s explore what’s happening with baby’s development and what symptoms and changes you can expect to experience during this week of pregnancy.
Key Takeaways at 16 Weeks Pregnant
- Baby is the size of an avocado and their bones are hardening, muscles are developing, and they are becoming more active in the womb.
- Common symptoms like nausea and fatigue often improve around this time while new symptoms like stretch marks, swelling, heartburn, dizziness and congestion can crop up.
- Prenatal testing like cell-free DNA tests and prenatal screenings can be done now to check baby’s development.
- Baby can hear sounds now so read, play music and talk to them. You may be able to feel their first fluttery movements soon.
- Plan the glucose screening test and start thinking about childbirth classes and breastfeeding preparation if you haven’t already.
Baby Development at 16 Weeks
At 16 weeks, your baby is about the size of an avocado, measuring 4-5 inches and weighing around 3-5 ounces. They’ve grown tremendously in the past few weeks, roughly doubling in size!
Some of the developmental milestones your baby is reaching during the 16th week of pregnancy include:
- Bones hardening: Your baby’s skeleton is starting to harden as the bones absorb more calcium. The bones will continue to strengthen and harden further in the coming weeks.
- Muscle growth: As the small bones develop, they provide an anchor for muscles to grow and strengthen. Baby is developing muscles in the back, neck, arms and legs.
- Facial features taking shape: Tiny nostrils become visible and their eyes are more developed, with pupils that can constrict and dilate and lids that can open and close. The eyes have moved closer together on the face as well.
- Swallowing amniotic fluid: Baby is regularly swallowing the amniotic fluid surrounding them which helps their digestive system develop and kidneys function. The fluid also contains nutrients and antibodies to keep them nourished and healthy.
- Learning to grip: Cartilage is forming in their fingers allowing them to make a fist and start gripping the umbilical cord. This helps strengthen muscles needed after birth for activities like grasping a finger.
- Hearing development: The inner ear bones that aid hearing are more developed now. Baby can detect noises like your heartbeat, blood flow, breathing and digestion as well as loud voices and sounds from outside the womb. Responding to sound encourages further brain development.
- Hair and skin: A light covering of hair called lanugo is growing on baby’s body for warmth and protection. A waxy coating called vernix caseosa is also forming on their skin for protection.
- Increased movement: Thanks to growing muscles and maturing nerves, baby’s movements are becoming more coordinated. You still may not be able to feel the movements yet, but your baby is squirming, somersaulting, kicking, and waving those tiny arms and legs!
While in the womb, babies this age are already learning and developing important skills like grasping, kicking, and sleeping/waking cycles that will be essential after birth.
16 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms and Changes
How are you feeling now that you’ve reached 16 weeks pregnant? Many of the unpleasant first trimester symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue and frequent urination should be improving around this time if you’ve experienced them. But new symptoms may also pop up as your body rapidly goes through physical changes to accommodate your growing baby.
Here are some common symptoms and changes you may notice during your 16th week of pregnancy:
- Stretch marks: As your belly expands, stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, backside, and thighs can develop. Keep the area moisturized and exfoliated to reduce itchiness.
- Varicose veins: Increased blood flow and pressure from the uterus can cause veins in the legs and elsewhere to enlarge. Avoid crossing your legs when sitting and take breaks from standing.
- Dizziness: Changing hormones, increased blood flow and dropping blood pressure can lead to occasional lightheadedness or dizziness. Rise slowly from sitting or lying.
- Swollen ankles, fingers or face: Extra fluid retention can cause swelling (edema) in the hands, feet, ankles and sometimes face. Elevate feet when possible and watch salt intake. Report significant swelling to your doctor.
- Constipation: Progesterone slows digestion leaving you more prone to constipation. Drink plenty of water, exercise and eat high-fiber foods to stay regular.
- Bleeding gums: Increased hormones and blood flow could make your gums more sensitive and prone to bleeding. Practice good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing gently twice a day.
- Stuffy nose and congestion: Higher estrogen and progesterone levels can cause swollen nasal passages and congestion. Rest, use a humidifier and avoid risky decongestants.
- Heartburn: Your growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach and forces stomach acids upwards. Avoid acidic and spicy foods that trigger heartburn. Sleep propped up with pillows.
- Insomnia: It’s common to have trouble getting comfortable and sleeping through the night now. Use pillows for support, practice good sleep habits and take rest breaks when you can.
- Increased vaginal discharge: You may notice more vaginal discharge (leukorrhea) as estrogen levels rise and the cervix becomes softer. Normal discharge is thin, milky white/clear and mild smelling.
- Food cravings or aversions: Your appetite may change as hormonal fluctuations continue. Give in to healthy cravings (unless your doctor advises otherwise) and eat small, frequent meals for nausea.
- Round ligament pain: As your uterus grows, the ligaments that support it can spasm and cause brief, sharp belly pains. Switch positions or rest until it passes. Report severe pain.
While every pregnancy is different, these are some common symptoms and changes many women experience around 16 weeks. Always check with your doctor about any worrying or persistent symptoms.
16 Weeks Pregnant Belly
At 16 weeks pregnant, your expanding uterus is now about the size of a large grapefruit and is continuing its climb upwards. You’ve likely “popped” a small bump by now that’s only going to grow more noticeable in the coming weeks. Some maternity clothes or belly bands for your regular pants will soon be a necessity for comfort.
Now’s a great time to start using natural oils and lotions to keep your expanding skin hydrated and supple as your belly transforms to accommodate your growing baby.
16 Weeks Pregnant Ultrasound
Many doctors or midwives plan an ultrasound around the 16 week mark. This anatomy scan allows them to check in on your baby’s development and screen for any potential complications like birth defects or problems with growth.
During this more thorough ultrasound, the technician will carefully examine all of your baby’s major organs like the heart, brain, kidneys and stomach. They’ll measure the length of the baby’s bones and look at other developmental markers. It usually takes 30-45 minutes.
You should be able to find out the sex of your baby if you want to at this ultrasound if it’s visible. Let your technician know in advance if you do want to know. The main purpose, however, is to ensure your baby is developing properly, not fetal sex determination.
If there are any concerns found on the ultrasound, your doctor may order follow up testing or schedule additional ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy to keep close tabs on your baby’s growth and health.
16 Weeks Pregnant Prenatal Testing
There are some important optional prenatal tests that are often performed around the 16 week mark as well when your risk of miscarriage drops. These screens help check for genetic or chromosomal abnormalities that could impact your baby’s development.
Some common prenatal tests offered include:
Quad screen: This is a blood test done between weeks 15-20 to analyze hormone levels related to chromosomal conditions like Down syndrome, trisomy 18 and spinal bifida. It poses no risk to mom or baby. Follow up diagnostic testing would be recommended if red flags are found.
Cell-free DNA: This screens for Down syndrome and other trisomies by analyzing baby’s DNA in mom’s blood. It’s done anytime after 10 weeks and is 99% accurate with no risk to baby. May not be covered by all insurance plans.
Glucose screening: Between weeks 24-28, you’ll have a glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes which can affect baby’s growth. You drink a sugary drink then your blood sugar is tested an hour later. Further testing may be needed if it’s elevated.
Your doctor will discuss which prenatal screens make sense for your particular pregnancy and risk factors. Things like your age, family history and medical background factor into recommendations. These tests help ensure both you and baby stay as healthy as possible.
16 Weeks Pregnant Lifestyle Tips
Now that you and your baby are settling into the second trimester, here are some lifestyle adjustments to make the most of this stage:
- Get moving: Exercise helps prevent excess weight gain and back pain. Take a prenatal yoga class or go for walks. Always talk to your doctor before significantly increasing activity. Avoid high risk sports.
- Eat nutritiously: Focus on a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats for you and baby. Take prenatal vitamins. Watch caffeine intake.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and fluids now that your blood volume has expanded. Dehydration in pregnancy can cause contractions, early labor or other complications.
- Monitor kick counts: Around 28 weeks when movements are very strong, you’ll start formally tracking kicks and jabs. But you can informally begin monitoring now for peace of mind.
- Talk and read to your bump: Babies can hear in the womb at this point. Read stories, play music and talk so they learn to recognize your voices.
- Shop for essentials: Start browsing strollers, car seats, cribs and other gear you’ll need after birth so you don’t feel rushed closer to your due date. Make lists and research safety. Consider used items to save money.
- Find your healthcare providers: Interview pediatricians and childcare providers if you haven’t already. Look into options like birthing centers if interested. Decide who you want present during labor if anyone.
- Consider a doula: A doula provides continuous emotional support and guidance before, during and after birth but is not medically trained like a midwife. Research this option early if it appeals to you.
Focus on keeping up self-care at this stage like eating nourishing foods, exercising, reducing stress through activities like prenatal yoga or meditation, and getting adequate sleep. Don’t neglect regular checkups, prenatal vitamins and communicating any concerning symptoms to your practitioner.
16 Weeks Pregnant Checklist
- Schedule your 16-20 week anatomy ultrasound if your doctor hasn’t already to check baby’s development
- Discuss optional prenatal screening tests with your doctor
- Start listening to baby’s heartbeat and feeling for kicks/movement daily
- Sign up for childbirth education classes
- Look into newborn care, breastfeeding classes and baby safety courses
- Start shopping for nursery furniture and baby gear if you haven’t already
- Plan to get the TDAP vaccine between 27-36 weeks to protect baby
- Make sure to attend all checkup visits for blood pressure, weight gain, and fundal height checks
When Do You Start Showing at 16 Weeks?
Many women begin “showing” and sporting a visibly pregnant belly around 16 weeks. It varies a lot based on your body type, muscle tone, how many pregnancies you’ve had etc. First time moms tend to pop later. You might start overhearing strangers commenting “you look pregnant!” soon if you haven’t already.
Somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks, most women transition out of regular clothes into maternity wear for comfort. Your doctor won’t be concerned if your bump is barely there or very pronounced at this stage – every body carries pregnancy differently!
16 Weeks Pregnant with Twins
Expecting twins? At 16 weeks pregnant with twins, your babies are the same size as singletons but your belly may already be noticeably larger. Make sure you’re seeing a specialist experienced in twin pregnancies.
With twins, extra prenatal testing may be recommended around this time, even early anatomy scans. More frequent monitoring will continue throughout your twin pregnancy to ensure both babies are growing at the same rate.
Expect more intense pregnancy symptoms like extreme fatigue, severe morning sickness, weight gain and body aches from the increased hormones. Listen to your body and don’t overexert. Drink plenty of water and eat small frequent meals. Take frequent rest breaks and practice stress-relieving activities. You’ve got this mama!
16 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms and Discomforts
Carrying and nurturing a growing human is hard work! Here are some remedies for common 16 week pregnancy discomforts:
Fatigue: Take naps, go to bed earlier, delegate tasks at work and home, and scale back activities if possible.
Morning sickness: Eat small frequent meals, avoid triggers like smells, stay hydrated, rest and consider seabands, ginger, or Unisom + B6 if approved.
Back pain: Use heating pads, massage, and sit with good posture. Consider pregnancy pillows or PT.
Leg cramps: Stretch before bed, hydrate, soak in warm baths and avoid pointing toes when stretching.
Trouble sleeping: Listen to meditation apps, limit afternoon caffeine, keep the room cool and use supportive pillows.
Heartburn: Avoid trigger foods, don’t lie down right after eating, and take Tums or another antacid if approved by your provider.
Congestion: Use a humidifier, drink warm fluids, use saline drops or spray, and sleep propped up on pillows.
Headaches: Rest in a dark room, use cold compresses on your head or neck, hydrate, and limit stress.
Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication when pregnant. Don’t hesitate to call them with any worrying symptoms for guidance.
16 Weeks Pregnant FAQs
Can I feel the baby move at 16 weeks pregnant?
Some women start feeling baby move around 16 weeks, but it’s more common between 18-22 weeks in first pregnancies. Quickening or fluttering sensations are easy to miss at first. Pay close attention for gas-like bubbles, tiny jabs or swishes in your lower belly.
Is it safe to fly at 16 weeks pregnant?
Air travel is generally safe before 36 weeks pregnant barring complications. Get up and move around every hour or two on long flights to reduce swelling and blood clots. Stay hydrated. Some OBs recommend a note from doctor to fly after 28 weeks pregnant.
What appointments happen at 16 weeks pregnant?
Your 16 week prenatal checkup may include measuring fundal height, checking blood pressure and weight, urine test, listening to heartbeat, and possibly an ultrasound or screening tests. Discuss all genetic testing options with your doctor if you haven’t already.
When do pregnancy cravings start?
Cravings and food aversions can strike any time thanks to shifting hormones, but they tend to peak in the first and third trimesters for many women. Give in to harmless cravings in moderation (frozen yogurt vs ice cream, fruit vs candy).
Is cramping normal at 16 weeks pregnant?
Some mild cramping and pelvic discomfort is common as your uterus expands and ligaments/muscles stretch. However, call your doctor about severe, consistent or one-sided cramping which can signal issues like placental problems or urinary tract infections.
The 16th week of pregnancy marks an exciting milestone where your risk of miscarriage falls dramatically. Your baby is developing by leaps and bounds even if you can’t always feel it. Take time to bond by reading, singing and talking to your bump daily. Before you know it, those first little kicks will flutter and you’ll be halfway through!