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Your baby

Week 13
Your baby now measures about 7 cm from top to tailbone. Its neck is longer and stronger, and the head is held erect. The fetus now looks like a real little person. Its bones are growing rapidly, and its limbs are becoming longer. The fetus develops many reflexes and reacts to stimulation of the mother's belly by moving.

Week 14
The ears develop further, the eyes position themselves in the middle of the face. The nose points upward, which allows the baby to breathe more easily once it has come into the world and is nursing at its mother's breast.
Your baby swims like a fish in the amniotic fluid. Its soft fluttering movements can already be felt-but often are still confused with stomach rumblings.

Week 15
The unborn baby's skin is very delicate, transparent, and hairless. Movements of the limbs are coordinated: the baby makes a fist, scratches the umbilical cord, and sucks its thumb! With reflexive movements, it searches for the nipple and practices for when it will nurse later on.
The baby hears its first sounds, those of its environment-mainly the mother's heartbeat and digestive sounds.

Week 16
The first hair follicles begin to form on the skin. The top of the head is covered with soft down. You may feel your baby's movements as "butterflies"-a soft fluttering like butterfly wings in your belly. Up to this point, the baby's head has grown faster than the rest of its body. Now the body catches up. Arms and legs grow longer and attain the correct proportions.
The eyelids are still closed, but the unborn baby can perceive the contrast between light and dark in the outside world.

Week 17
Inside the skull, beneath the two halves of the brain, lies the cerebellum, which controls motor activity and coordination. In the seventeenth Week the cerebral cortex begins to develop, and will continue to grow for a year-and-a-half after birth.
Throughout the pregnancy, the umbilical cord supplies the baby with nutrients and oxygen, and removes wastes. It contains one vein and two arteries. The umbilical vein carries blood rich in oxygen and nutrients to the baby, and blood laden with wastes is carried away by the umbilical arteries. The three vessels are surrounded by very strong gelatinous tissue.
The placenta acts as a filter. It allows only very specific components of the mother's blood to pass through to the baby. The fetal intestines stay tucked away in the umbilical cord for a relatively long time, until the baby's abdominal cavity is large enough to contain them.

Week 18
The bones continue to grow. They are still soft and malleable. Gradually, they harden and ossify. In the eighteenth Week of pregnancy, your baby has even more bones than you do, since some do not grow together until later.
Your tiny baby can now give a big yawn and scratch its forehead. The liver is still impressively large. During fetal life, it produces blood cells continually. Taste buds appear on the tongue, and the palate closes.

Week 19
The muscles are optimally connected to the brain: further development of the nervous system makes movements more coordinated. On an ultrasound image you can see your baby kicking its legs and stretching out its arms.
This is an exciting time! You can now feel your baby's different movements. It kicks, pirouettes, and stretches. It can now feel your hand on your belly. Softly stroking your abdomen calms the unborn baby.
Toward the end of the second trimester, in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy, some women can already feel a kind of rhythmic thumping: Baby has the hiccups! It is practicing for real life, in case it later swallows milk the wrong way while nursing.
Sleeping and waking phases become regular. The baby will probably be more active when you yourself are resting.

Week 20
Halfway there! At this point, your baby would fit in one hand. From now on, it will grow more slowly. The lungs, digestive tract and immune system mature.
The baby acquires its first hair on the body (lanugo) and on its head. A viscous protective layer called "vernix caseosa" covers the skin. This creamy white layer consists of sebum (a fatty skin secretion) and skin cells that the baby's small body has shed.

Week 21
The bladder and urethra are now well developed. In boys, the external genitalia are fully differentiated. The prostate appears. In girls, the vagina is fully formed.
The fetal heart is also completely developed. It beats independently of your heart, though the state of your nerves can influence the baby's heart rate. When you are excited your body produces adrenaline, which crosses the placenta and accelerates the baby's heart rate. This presents no danger to your child. Its small heart is learning to tolerate stress.

Week 22
The eyelids and brows on the tiny face are now perfect. The baby tastes what you eat. A layer of fat accumulates to keep it warm. The epidermis still looks transparent, reddish and wrinkled. The fetus now drinks amniotic fluid, which provides valuable nutrients.

Week 23
The tiny feet are easy to recognize. The baby keeps its hands curled into little fists. The soft down covering the small body slowly darkens. The lungs produces a surfactant, a protective film that helps them expand after birth. In the intestine, the baby's first stool, called meconium, begins to form. The first baby teeth begin to grow in the gums, though they do not yet erupt.

Week 24
Your baby's heartbeat can now be heard from the outside, even with only an ear on the belly, without a stethoscope. You can determine the baby's position by feeling your abdomen. Cartilaginous tissues and bones harden. The lungs mature and prepare for birth. The baby's reflex motions help it practice for real breathing. After the twenty-fourth Week, the baby is considered "viable", i.e., it can survive outside the mother's womb.

Week 25
The baby hears and recognizes your voice. Some experts say that music and singing during this stage are good for the baby's growth.
For the most part, the eyelids have been closed during fetal development. Now they finally open. The respiratory apparatus develops very quickly. The previously closed nostrils also open. Blood vessels form in the lungs. Also growing are the nerve cells that make conscious thought possible. Connections are made in the brain between the cells responsible for feelings, emotions, sensory impressions, and thoughts. This means that your child begins to learn and remember even before birth.

Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
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