At 16 weeks
You’re nearly halfway through your pregnancy and it’s probably beginning to feel as if you’ve always been pregnant! But there are still lots of changes and lots to think about.
Your boobs will be getting steadily bigger as your body prepares for lactation and they may be sweatier underneath, so stay cool, bathe or shower regularly and use a good moisturizer. Your breasts may tingle or feel sore – don’t worry that’s quite normal – and your nipples will have darkened. Now’s definitely the time to buy a few good supportive maternity bras and big knickers: forget trying to manage with your usual undies! Though you can still adapt your clothes.
Don’t expect a beach ball of a bump straightaway – rest assured, that will come in time! You might not have put on much weight yet, but you’ve lost your waistline and you’ll be more energized and more full of life than during the first trimester.
Best of all you might even find that your sex drive, shut off by weeks of nausea, returns or increases! Sex in pregnancy can be very sexy indeed thanks to those pregnancy hormones.
Here are a few more ways you can be involved in your pregnancy –
- go to antenatal appointments so that you can hear your baby’s heartbeat and see movement on the ultrasound monitor
- visit the hospital and delivery room with your partner
- contribute to the Birth Plan
- meet any healthcare professionals such as midwives who are involved
- be present at the birth
Your baby’s progress is really going strong. The tiny bones in his ears are hardening so he’s hearing your heart, voice and digestive rumbles and any music you play. As his facial features mature he’s beginning to develop a repertoire of grimaces, frowns and squints, though these are still reflexes and nothing to do with what you had for dinner last night! And although his eyes won’t open until the 6th month, he can already distinguish bright light outside the womb. Yes, your unborn baby is really clever.
With legs now longer than arms and bones getting stronger, he’s starting to look much more in proportion. By 18 weeks he’ll weigh an impressive 180 grams and be about 14 centimetres crown-to-rump (top of head to bum). The placenta’s also growing – it’s already about 8 centimetres across and it’ll weigh a whopping half a kilo by term.
Our topic for today is maternity leave and your maternity rights. Knowing exactly what maternity leave and benefits you qualify for can seem a tricky business, but it really boils down to filling in a few straightforward forms. Your doctor or midwife will point you in the right direction to begin with.
But don’t delay: if you’re at work you must tell your employer in writing no later than 15 weeks before the baby’s due that you’re pregnant, informing them of the date you intend to stop work and whether you intend to return to the job.
Whilst pregnant you’re also entitled to:
- free prescriptions
- free dental treatment
- maternity allowance (the amount depending on your National Insurance contributions)
- additional help if you’re on a low income
Your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau or social security office will be able to explain what benefits you can get, or you can check the Department of Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.org.uk.
And let’s not forget dad. Dads are now entitled to up to 2 weeks paternity leave after the baby’s born, and it’s increasingly common to take it. I’d encourage your partner to book the time off as by then you’ll definitely need an extra pair of hands to help.
Next time we’ll be talking about feeling your baby kick for the first time – an unforgettable moment.
Bye for now!
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Copyright Miriam Stoppard 2012