Your baby girl or boy is approximately 13 inches in length, measuring from crown to rump and weighs close to 2 ½ pounds this week. Along with your baby’s eyes being able to open and close, his or her eyes are framed by a set of fully-formed, beautiful eyelashes. These distinct lashes will serve to protect your baby’s delicate eyeballs from harmful matter after birth. Eyebrows are filled in and growing, as well. The fine hair that covers your little one’s head is gradually getting thicker, but you won’t know how much hair your baby will have for a few more months. If your baby is born with a full head of hair, much of it is likely to fall out during the first six months. This sometimes occurs because hair alternates between two stages- a growing stage and a resting stage. The hair follicles of newborns reach the resting stage at the same time, often causing the hair to fall out in bunches. This hair is soon replaced with thicker hair. Hair follicles are pigmenting to give your little one hair color now; whether it be dark, red or blonde.
Your baby is able to do so many things inside the womb. Did you know that your baby is capable of crying long before birth? It’s not surprising really, since premature babies born at 23 weeks and less have the ability to cry. Of course, your baby’s cry would be inaudible until after delivery, when air is available to the larynx. Researchers have found that babies as early as 28 weeks (most likely much earlier) can become startled, afraid and cry. During one study, ultrasound images captured stimulation causing unborn babies to show all the characteristics of crying: open mouth, grimacing or frowning, chin quivering, increasing head tilts and several irregular breaths before exhaling and swallowing. These changes in breathing patterns and facial expressions show they are able to respond to noise stimulation by being clearly disturbed or scared. During the study, the babies were not seen crying when they weren’t disturbed by stimulation. Your baby can express many emotions, months before delivery, both pleasure and displeasure. Babies between 16 and 20 weeks have even been observed showing fearful reactions to amniocentesis. Mothers and doctors have observed babies even turning towards the needle and “attacking” it with a fist, after the needle nicked them.
Food flavors present in the amniotic fluid may also be remembered by babies. Since your baby can taste these flavors in the fluid, if sweetener is added to it, the swallowing rate would actually double! If a sour flavor as added, swallowing would decrease. If you breastfeed your baby, he or she will taste some flavors from your diet in your breast milk, as well. Colostrum (the first milk in your breasts) is recognized by newborn babies as familiar due to the presence of similar tastes they drank in the womb. It has been observed that women who’s diets change the greatest from before and after birth have the most difficulty breastfeeding. Food preferences as your baby gets older may be directly linked to these early experiences with different tastes.
Welcome to the last trimester of your pregnancy- the third trimester. Your uterus is getting up there! You can feel the top of it about 3 inches or so above your belly button. You might be feeling like you can’t lean over very far any longer! Your total weight gain this week may be between 15 and 25 pounds. It’s normal for you to gain approximately a pound every week now. This weight goes many places: to your baby first and foremost, to your extra blood volume, to amniotic fluid, to your uterus, to the placenta and even to breast tissue. Keep in mind that close to half of the weight gained during pregnancy will be gone soon after delivery and the rest will probably be lost within the first six months or possibly the first year.
Up until this week, you may have been seeing your doctor or midwife once a month. Now, those visits may increase to every two weeks or more often if you are considered to be “high-risk”. At approximately 36 weeks, your prenatal visits may increase again, this time up to weekly appointments until your delivery. These visits will consist of giving a urine sample, charting your weight gain and blood pressure, listening to your baby’s heart rate (usually by using a Doppler device), examination of your uterus to check your baby’s position, measurement of your belly and checking your hands and feet for swelling. Most of these things you’re probably used to by now. Remember to write down any questions or concerns you have and bring the list with you to go over with your doctor or midwife at your next visit, so you don’t forget.
Have you considered getting a belly cast made to memorialize the curves of your pregnant form? A belly cast is basically a plaster mould of your pregnant tummy or torso, which have become extremely popular. Belly casts have become the modern day version of bronzed baby shoes. What a special 3-dimensional way to capture the exciting transformation which your body is undergoing now! As memories quickly fade, this unusual art lets you forever remember how you looked during your pregnancy. There are basic do-it-yourself belly cast kits available in some craft stores and online which you can decorate as simply or elegantly as you wish, as well as much more expensive spa-like experiences that include a customized artistic finish to the cast. The best time to have a belly cast made is two to four weeks before your due date, when your belly is really popping out! So, wait at least another eight weeks or so before getting plastered (by wet plaster strips, that is!)