Your baby is still very small at approximately the size of a grapefruit and is growing at a steady pace. By the end of this week, your baby will weigh about 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 ounces. Did you know that your tiny little one is not just physically connected to you, but emotionally as well? Your baby shares your endorphins, which are chemicals produced in your brain that have an overall euphoric effect and give you a tremendous sense of well-being, as well as stress hormones including cortisol. These hormones cross the placenta to your baby.
Emotions, stress in particular, affect your baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. Since your baby shares your emotional sensations with you, it’s important to stay as stress-free as possible. You two have an amazing connection, even prior to birth!
Brown fat deposits are forming under your baby’s skin now, particularly in areas such as the neck and chest. This specialized fat is thermogenic tissue, which is produced to generate heat and maintain body temperature after your baby’s birth. After birth, your baby won’t have much white fat to retain his or her body heat. Brown fat will help keep your little one insulated. During the third trimester, your baby will continue forming more layers of brown fat. Premature babies have an insufficient supply of brown fat; making it more difficult for them to stay warm, because they’ve had less time in the womb to build up their brown fat stores.
It is believed that your little one is already capable of feeling thirsty! Your baby can swallow well now and is drinking large amounts of the clear-colored amniotic fluid that surrounds him or her; as much as a liter a day. Your baby’s tiny taste buds are mature and the sweet taste of the amniotic fluid encourages swallowing. After the amniotic fluid is swallowed, it passes through the kidneys and is excreted as urine. Then, your baby swallows once again; recycling the fluid completely every few hours. Besides urine, the amniotic fluid contains other substances such as shed skin cells.
Your baby is also able to breathe amniotic fluid into his or her lungs now (although he or she gets oxygen through the umbilical cord), which promotes maturation and development of the lungs and gastrointestinal system. It helps get his or her little lungs used to working and expanding, which prepares your baby for breathing after birth.