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Week 19 may be the week during which your child may start kicking or prodding. They might be around the size of a banana.

This MNT Knowledge Center article is part of a series helping you through what to expect during every week of your pregnancy. It will clarify what is happening to your body, how the fetus is growing, and what steps you will likely need to take at this stage of pregnancy.

Find out what happens to your body and your fetus on a week-by-week basis by following these links:

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Your fetus will now be around the size of a banana.

You may experience pain in your round ligaments, particularly around sides of your uterus and down into your pelvis. This pain can sometimes be felt in the groin area. It usually occurs with changes in position.

This is due to changing levels of the hormone relaxin, which increase to prepare the hips for delivery. This hormone thickens and stretches the ligaments around the uterus to support weight more effectively. If these symptoms continue for longer than a few seconds each time they are felt, they may suggest another, more serious health problem, such as placental abruption, or early labor.

Speak to your physician if these pains persist.

A condition called pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can also occur at this stage. This causes stiffness, instability, and pain in the pelvic joints during pregnancy. The condition affects 1 in 5 women who are pregnant, and the pain can sometimes be so severe that it interrupts sleep and daily function.

Discuss these symptoms with your doctor. They may be able to refer you to a physical therapist for treatment.

Your baby is now the size of a banana, measuring just under inches long and weighing in at 7 ounces.

At 19 weeks pregnant, the fetus may be developing hair on its head. The kidneys of the fetus will now be making urine.

A female fetus now has six million eggs in her ovaries.

Your child is becoming more reactive to sounds from outside of the uterus. You can start reading, singing, or speaking to your child to help familiarize them with how your voice sounds before they are even born.

Genetic screening may be recommended between weeks 15 and 20 if it was not performed during your first trimester. Options may include simple blood work or the more invasive option of amniocentesis. This is a diagnostic procedure in which a needle is used to sample amniotic fluid and test for chromosomal abnormalities.

These tests can help rule out chromosomal problems, such as Down's Syndrome and trisomy 13 and 18. Talk with your doctor about which test you would like to have performed, if any.

You may find yourself needing to take long, soothing warm baths or purchasing a maternity support belt to help reduce the symptoms of round ligament pain.

Click here to choose from a range of maternity support belts. Please note that this link will take you to an external site.

As with earlier weeks, you will soon find that there are many lifestyle modifications that need to be made during pregnancy and even after delivery.

One of the best ways to preserve health during pregnancy is to eat well.

Balanced diet

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A balanced diet is essential to a healthy pregnancy.

It is important to make sure that you consume a nutrient-dense, balanced diet during pregnancy. This can help your fetus grow and help you maintain the required energy levels to support your pregnancy.

You might find that you experience feelings of hunger more often than before pregnancy, but there is no need to "eat for two." Your fetus takes nutrition from the placenta and the uterus.

You can achieve a balance of nutrients over the course of each week without missing out on your favorite dishes. Generally, you should consume about 300 to 400 extra calories per day in your second and third trimesters.

Fruit and vegetables need to provide the cornerstone of the pregnancy diet. Eating five portions each day, whether fresh, juiced, canned, or frozen, can help you top up levels of vitamins and fiber that help digestion and prevent constipation.

Carbohydrates and starchy foods should make up little more than one-third of what you eat during pregnancy.

These include:

  • potatoes
  • bread
  • breakfast cereals
  • oats
  • yams
  • cornmeal
  • noodles

It is better to eat wholegrain or high-fiber options, such as wholegrain pasta, brown rice, or baked potatoes with the skins on.

During pregnancy, consuming proteins every day is highly important. These can come from a range of foods, including:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • beans
  • fish
  • nuts
  • cooked eggs

While it is safe to eat fish during pregnancy, and two portions of fish per week are recommended, it also suggested that you limit your intake to between 8 and 12 ounces (oz.) of fish and shellfish per week. Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, or marlin.

Make sure you consume enough dairy, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, as the calcium in dairy products can help strengthen the skeleton of the fetus. It is better to choose low-fat dairy products. Alternatively, opt for calcium-fortified alternatives if you do not consume dairy products for dietary or ethical reasons.

If you feel hungry between meals, choose healthier snacks, such as:

  • small sandwiches or pitta bread with lean meat, grated cheese, and salad
  • carrot, celery, or cucumber
  • yogurt with fruit, especially low-fat, low-sugar, or plain types
  • pitta bread with hummus
  • prepared apricots, figs, or prunes
  • light soups
  • baked beans on toast
  • malt loaf or fruited tea cake

It is best to avoid sweet or fatty foods if you are looking to keep down body weight. While you do not have to cut these out completely, eat smaller amounts of them less often.

Preparing food

Food safety and reducing the risk of infection is vital during pregnancy to protect the fetus.

Wash all ground-grown foods, such as fruits and vegetables, as traces of soil contain harmful pathogens that can cause toxoplasmosis. Be sure to clean all surfaces and utensils after preparing raw foods to help protect both you and the infant against food poisoning.

For the same reasons, store raw food away from food that is ready to eat, and keep utensils that have touched raw meat away from knives and chopping boards that touch other foods.

Be sure to heat ready meals, especially those that contain poultry, all the way through. Make sure that any meat is cooked all the way through, and avoid adding fat or oil to meals.

Approach your physician with any questions about your pregnancy.

Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage, such as vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue, leaking vaginal fluid, feeling faint or dizzy, low blood pressure, rectal pressure, shoulder pain and severe pelvic pain, or cramping.

MNT is here for you throughout your pregnancy.