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Your baby

Week 26
During this stage, your child grows one centimeter about every seven days. The twenty-sixth Week is critical for lung maturity. The baby reacts to movements and sounds in its environment (which are reduced by the amniotic fluid). It recognizes voices, especially yours. You might feel it start at a sudden noise. It likes music, and even has musical preferences already!
The baby can distinguish between day and night, since some light comes through the uterine wall. If you expose your belly to sunlight, the rays of the sun create a fascinating atmosphere of reddish tones in the uterus.

Week 27
In the twenty-seventh Week, the baby is very restless. It is still small enough to move freely and cut capers in the amniotic fluid.
The small facial features appear almost as they will at birth, though the skin is still wrinkled and covered with a layer of fat, the "vernix caseosa", which protects the baby during its long immersion in the amniotic fluid. The fully-formed eyelids now open and close, and have eyelashes. The baby looks around.

Week 28
Your baby now weighs more than a kilogram. The skin loses its wrinkles and takes on a more natural color.
The fine hair (lanugo) on the skin falls out. Sometimes at birth a little still remains on the back and shoulders. Fat deposits collect beneath the skin to prepare the baby for life outside the mother's warm womb.
The brain grows and its nerve impulses speed up, allowing cognitive activities to develop. All the important organs are now functional, including the lungs.

Week 29
The unborn baby is now perfectly proportioned. All its organs are fully formed and continue to mature until birth. The lungs, especially, have developed enough to allow the child to breathe spontaneously and without difficulty. The bone marrow is producing red blood cells. In male fetuses, the testicles now descend into the scrotum. In females, the clitoris, labia majora, and labia minora are already clearly visible.
The baby continues to suck its thumb as practice for breastfeeding.
In the next eleven Weeks, the baby's weight will triple.

Week 30
The baby spends about 80% of its sleep phase in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, characterized by intense brain activity. From time to time the baby opens its eyes and looks around curiously.
The eyes are slate-grey in color. The iris expands and contracts when exposed to light. As the baby grows at thirty Weeks, the brain develops rapidly. Sucking and swallowing reflexes develop, and the immune system becomes stronger.

Week 31
Already, from time to time during Weeks 31 to 37, the baby assumes the head-down birth position. A breech baby sometimes spontaneously turns during the last Weeks.
The little one measures 37 centimeters from top to toe and weighs in at about one-and-a-half kilograms. Development now slows until birth. The baby is stronger than ever. It still has enough room to move; its movements can sometimes be seen as sudden bulging or hollowing of your abdominal wall.
The baby now has thicker hair on its head and looks almost like a newborn. Thanks to the whitish fat layer in the subcutaneous tissue, the skin now looks pink instead of red.

Week 32
The unborn baby's kidneys begin to function. They filter the amniotic fluid swallowed by the fetus and excrete it as urine. The baby produces about a liter of urine each day, which is filtered by the placenta and disposed of with the other wastes. The amniotic fluid is exchanged once every three hours, and so always stays perfectly clean.
If it is very warm, or the baby has had a large meal, it falls asleep quickly. It sleeps for about 15 to 30 minutes at 20-minute intervals. Don't worry if there are times when the baby does not move. What is important is that you feel about ten strong movements in a day.

Week 33
The baby measures about 30 cm from head to tailbone, and weighs about two kilograms.
The amount of amniotic fluid is now at its greatest, about 1 liter. The baby continues to grow, and gradually fills the uterus. Movements become less frequent, slower, and more controlled: the child is trying to find a more comfortable position, and consciously draws its arms and legs up to its chest.
The hearing and speech centers are maturing. At birth, the baby already knows your voice.The liver is storing glycogen-a valuable source of energy during birth, to last until the newborn is regularly fed.

Week 34
Your baby is now sufficiently developed to survive outside the womb without high risk or problems if it is born early. The mother provides antibodies. The baby also develops its own immune defenses against less-serious infections.
Since the fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid, the taste buds on the tongue and the osmoreceptors in the nasal mucosa are continually bathed in this liquid. The fetus reacts to specific substances in the amniotic fluid, but it is difficult to say whether it is the olfactory or taste receptors that are involved. The baby can certainly distinguish between sweet and unpleasant tastes.

Week 35
From head to tailbone, the baby measures about 31 cm, and from top to toe about 45 cm. It weighs 2.3 kg and will now grow about 2.5 centimeters per Week.
Fat develops on the arms and legs and dimples appear. The little face actually becomes chubby-cheeked. The uterine wall thins and allows light to pass, which influences the sleep-wake cycle. The baby also reacts to pain, light, and sounds.

Week 36
The baby's skeleton consists of flexible cartilage, which facilitates passage from the uterus into the outside world. The bones do not harden until after birth.
The baby might feel Braxton-Hicks contractions (painless false labor contractions)-which, however, do not hurt it at all. The baby may sometimes find itself in the birth position, with its head down and pressing against the cervix. While you now have more room to breathe and eat, you will feel a slight ache when walking. The placenta is fully developed. The baby continues to grow and nearly fills the uterus; the amount of amniotic fluid decreases.
At this stage of pregnancy, the digestive tract is not yet completely ready for life outside the womb. Babies born prematurely at this time lose more weight than those born at full term.

Week 37
Now and then you may feel your baby as it exercises its diaphragm and chest muscles. It is doing breathing exercises! At the beginning of the ninth month, the baby makes breathing motions, even though there is no air in its lungs yet. When it breathes in, the baby inhales amniotic fluid, which enters the esophagus and is expelled by hiccups. The baby's hiccups are normally associated with certain movements by the mother, for example, when you lie down, stand up, or after a large meal. In such situations, the fetus temporarily receives less oxygen for physiological reasons, which provides an opportunity to test the brand-new lungs. You will then feel a rhythmic, regular thumping that can last for up to half an hour. Since the fetus is immersed in the amniotic fluid and not getting any air, the hiccups are inevitable.

Week 38
The baby's head drops lower in the pelvis (usually after the thirty-eighth Week). The mother's belly also drops down. The baby's weight and size are now those of a full-term child. The nails have grown and completely cover the ends of the fingers. The unborn child stores about 14 grams of fat each day to be ready for the (usually) colder temperatures in the outside world.
The layer of fat beneath the skin also serves as a source of energy for the first days after the birth.

Week 39
Your baby measures 35 cm long from head to tailbone and 48 cm from top to toe. Now the baby is gradually running out of room in the uterus. On average, it weighs over 3 kg, perhaps a kilogram more or less. The bones of the skull are fully developed so that the head can enter the birth canal without risk. The creamy layer on the baby's skin disappears. Sometimes small amounts of this usually whitish film remain on the joints and in the folds of the skin.
All of your child's organs are now fully developed and functional. The lungs are also making surfactant at top speed to equip the baby for life in the outside world.

Week 40
You are in the home stretch! The baby moves and kicks you in the ribs right and left. The body part that will be born first is pressing on the cervix, which becomes softer and dilates.
The baby's bowel is full of meconium, a greenish liquid consisting of digestive gland secretions, bile pigments, lanugo, and cells from the intestinal wall. These "leftovers" are eliminated in the first bowel movement after birth. The baby now nearly fills the tight space. At the time of the birth, only a generous liter of amniotic fluid remains.
Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
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