More information on what to expect in week 16 of your pregnancy. You’re in the early stages of your second trimester and are feeling the full effects of your pregnancy. This week it may start to seem all the more real with the first flutterings and movements becoming noticeable. Read on to see what else is in store for you this week.

Your baby’s development

This week your baby is the size of a… large onion.

You may have felt some butterflies (also known as ‘quickening’) last week and that will continue into this week. Some women say they can feel actual movement around this time, but it can be hard to determine what is movement and what isn’t – especially for first-time mums. Don’t stress if you can’t feel anything though, some women won’t feel anything until week 20.

In week 16 of pregnancy your baby will also be:

· Practising moving his mouth.

· Moving his eyes, even though the eyelids are still fused shut.

· Able to use his hands to grip.

Your physical pregnancy changes

As well as a blocked nose, you may also experience the occasional nosebleed because of the extra blood pumping around your body. It’s easy to be caught short if this has never happened to you before, so make sure you carry a few tissues around with you just in case.

You’ll definitely be showing a bump now and as you slowly expand you may feel some sharp twingeseither side of your stomach. It’s easy to be alarmed by these pains, but they’re quite normal. It’s just the ligaments in your sides stretching to accommodate your bump. Of course, if they become worse or constant then check with your doctor.

Other pregnancy side effects you may notice include:

· Bleeding gums – due to hormone changes.

· Heightened sense of smell – again due to pregnancy hormones and increased blood flow.

· Constipation – as a result of hormones and your uterus pressing on your bowel.

Your health and fitness during pregnancy

There will be an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge you are producing. This is perfectly normal and a good sign that the vagina is cleansing itself properly. Healthy discharge should be milky-white or clear – if it’s thick, smells unpleasant or causes itching then see your doctor, to rule out a yeast infection.

Throughout your pregnancy you will undergo a number of tests to ensure your blood count and immunity is strong enough to support both you and your baby. Around this time, particularly if you’re in a higher-risk category (based on age and past pregnancies, for example), you will be offered an amniocentesis or CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test to check for any chromosomal abnormalities.

Your week 16 pregnancy checklist

· Get your partner involved and encourage him to put his hands on your bump when you notice any movement. It may take some patience for him to actually feel something but it’ll be more than worth the wait!

· Consider your maternity leave options – it may seem like a long way away but it’s good to be prepared just in case your baby decides to arrive early.

· Start thinking about the practical side of having a baby.

· Carry tissues with you to combat a stuffy or bleeding nose.

· Stay away from strong-smelling foods or general smells.

· Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent, or relieve, constipation.

· Check with your health care provider if you need a CVS or amniocentesis test.

Finding out you are pregnant is a fascinating and exciting time. But knowing what your rights are in the workforce and ensuring you receive all the financial entitlements you are due is just as important as planning the nursery and booking the hospital.

Pregnant women are protected from discrimination in the workforce by state and federal laws in Australia. When women apply for a job, their employer should not ask about their plans to have children in the future, as this is considered discriminatory.

When you are in employment, there are a range of financial entitlements you could be eligible for once your baby arrives.

3 fresh tips:

1. Know your rights. Contact your human resources department and enquire what your employer’s obligations to you are

2. Decide if you will apply for the Baby Bonus or the Paid Parental Leave scheme

3. Fill in any forms you can before your baby arrives. The first few months will be a little hectic!

The first few weeks with your new baby are a magical but often exhausting time. Here are 10 things to do before the birth to make life a little easier when you bring your newborn home.

1. Stock up

Your newborn baby will use around 10 nappies a day and the last thing you want to think about is running out for supplies. Stock up on nappies and wipes in advance. Fill up on pantry basics too such as rice, pasta, tea, coffee, washing powder and toilet rolls to help you through the early days.

2. Fill the freezer

In the early days you’ll be so preoccupied taking care of your baby, you won’t always have energy or time to think about feeding yourself and the rest of the family so make sure you’ve got a few ready-to-cook meals in the freezer. If it’s winter, search out your favourite casserole, pasta sauce and slow cooker recipes, schedule a big cook-up and then freeze in portions. In summertime, try experimenting with different marinades and freeze marinaded meat ready for your partner to barbecue. Alternatively, make double for dinner in the weeks leading up to your due date and pop extra portions in the freezer. Find out more about Zoe Bingley-Pullin’s pantry essentials for new parents.

3. Buy your nursing bra

The last few weeks of pregnancy are a good time to get properly fitted for a nursing bra. You’ll be able to try on different styles to find the one you feel most comfortable wearing without worrying that your breasts are leaking or that your newborn needs a feed.

4. Schedule yourself some pampering

A haircut or pedicure before the birth will make you feel great and is something you won’t have a lot of time for in the early weeks.

5. Organise any outstanding paperwork

Schedule any bills for payment and contact Centrelink to check what information you need to provide to register for the Baby Bonus or Paid Parental Leave. You won’t feel like doing chores like this after the birth.

6Know where to find help

Find out where your nearest Early Childhood Centre is and make

7. Read the instructions

Set up the stroller and get the baby car seat fitted professionally. Importantly make sure you know how to collapse the stroller and adjust any tricky straps.

8. Say thanks!

Buy or make baby announcement cards and baby shower thank-you cards.

9. Ask for help

Say yes to all offers of help from friends and family. If they’re not sure what they can do, gently suggest that helping get your house spick and span for when you get home from hospital would be perfect. Accept all future offers of babysitting and meals too!

“I had great friends and family who helped me prepare for Estelle’s birth. They helped me make lists of all the things I needed, and after she was born they brought over food as well. Looking back on it, my friends were pretty amazing!”