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Welcome! Pregnancy is a wondrous and miraculous experience. For each of the forty weeks of pregnancy, you'll find information about baby's development, the types of changes that occur within mom's pregnant body, tid-bits for dads, specific info for pregnant moms of twins or more, inspirational thoughts and suggested reading.

 

Click the week in the table to the left to visit the week you're interested in. We hope you'll read through all 40 weeks as the information builds on each week. You won't want to miss anything!

1-3 week

 

 

Your pregnancy is dated from the start of your last period, although conception usually occurs 2 weeks later. Thus, by the time you miss a period, you will probably be 5 weeks pregnant. A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks so your estimated date of delivery (EDD) will be 40 weeks from your last menstrual period (LMP). Making a note of this date helps the midwife when it comes to working out your due date.

Development in 1 to 3 Week Pregnancy

 

Approximately 14 days before your period is due, your body releases an egg (ovum) and the lining of your uterus starts to thicken. It only takes one sperm - out of the millions that are released and the hundreds that make the long journey up the Fallopian tube - to fertilize the egg and for the process of growth and development to begin. The tail separates from the head of the sperm as soon as it penetrates the egg, and cell division begins. Within hours, the fertilized egg becomes two cells, then four, then eight and so on, and is called a zygote. Approximately 4 days after fertilization it is a solid cluster of cells, called a morula.

 

About a week after fertilization, the ball of cells -now hollow in the centre and called a blastocyst -reaches the uterus. The blastocyst will attach itself to the wall of your uterus and begin to embed deep into its lining. This process is called implantation. The cluster of cells very guickly produces an outer layer, which will develop into the placenta and amniotic sac, and an inner layer, which will develop into the embryo. The outer layer has root-like structures that bury into the lining of the uterus. These become the route by which nutrients and oxygen are transported from your circulation to what will soon be the developing placenta and embryo.

 

Appearance in 1 to 3 Week Pregnancy

 

The morula is microscopic in size and resembles a mulberry. By the time it implants in the uterus, at around day 10, it resembles a greyish blackberry and is called a blastocyst. This hollow cluster of cells will grow and develop into the embryo.

In this false-colour image, 6 days after fertilization, the morula is surrounded by a ring of sperm that failed to penetrate and fertilize the ovum.

4rth week

 

 

Your body is producing high levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), especially in the morning. This happens after successful conception, that is, once a fertilized egg is implanted in the lining of the uterus. High levels of HCG, which makes pregnancy tests read positive, are necessary to sustain pregnancy. A plug of mucus develops at the entrance of the uterus to protect the embryo from infection.

 

Development in 4th Week Pregnancy

 

At 4 weeks the cells are dividing and multiplying rapidly, and three layers of cells have now formed:

The outer layer (the ectoderm) will develop into your baby's brain, nervous system, skin, hair, nails and teeth.

The middle layer (the mesoderm) will become her heart and blood vessels, bones, muscles and reproductive organs.

The inner layer (the endoderm) will develop into her lungs, liver, bladder and digestive system.

 

Appearance in 4th Week Pregnancy

 

The cells of the embryo grow lengthwise, so that the initially round cluster of cells assumes a leaner shape. The outer cells extend tiny finger-like projections (villi), which link up with your circulation.

 

Within each of the embryo's body cells are 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs with one of each pair inherited from each parent. As cell division takes places, so long as the chromosomes have been copied correctly, each new cell will have the same number of chromosomes and the same genetic information.

 

5th week

Your period is now overdue, so your pregnancy may just have been confirmed. You may not feel any different, but a tremendous amount of activity is going on inside your uterus. At first the hormone progesterone is produced by the discarded follicle to prevent womb lining from shedding. Later the placenta will produce progesterone in order to sustain the pregnancy.

 

For a small number of women (about 1 in 200 in the UK), the fertilized egg starts to develop outside the uterus, usually in a Fallopian tube. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy (see page 108). It is often detected around this stage but may still become apparent up until 10 weeks.

 

Development in 5th Week Pregnancy

 

The tiny embryo that will become your baby has a head end and a tail end. By this time all the building blocks for your baby's vital organs are in place. The central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) has already started to form. A basic circulation has begun to work, from you to your baby, and tiny blood vessels are now forming. The embryo is taking oxygen via the developing placenta, and the bag of membranes (the amniotic sac) is also developing. This will contain the water (amniotic fluid) in which your baby will be protected and continue to grow. Even at this early stage, the developing heart can be seen as a bulge, no bigger than a poppy seed, at the front of the embryo.

 

Appearance in 5th Week Pregnancy

 

Under a microscope, the embryo would look rather like a prawn in shape - but no bigger than a grain of rice. At this stage, the head can already be distinguished clearly from the body. The embryo has a curved back, like the letter C, with a stripe down it, which marks the beginning of the central nervous system. The embryo is attached by a stalk to the developing placenta.

 

 


6th week

 

 

In certain cases where it is necessary to confirm a pregnancy very early on, an ultrasound scan may be given, but it may not be able to detect the embryo at less than 8 weeks. Alternatively, you may be offered a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan -where a probe is placed into the vagina. This may just be able to show the 'flickering' of your baby's heart at 6 weeks of pregnancy.

 

Babies, up to 14 weeks, are measured in terms of crown to rump length, that is from the top of the head to the end of the bottom, measured as if they were sitting down. This measurement can be used to determine how many weeks pregnant you are and so give you an estimated delivery date (EDD). These scans are most accurate when they are done at around 10 weeks because there is more variation in fetus size later in pregnancy.

 

Development in 6th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's embryonic heart is now beating, but it only has two chambers (not four), because the circulation is not yet completely developed. The most advanced system at this stage is the central nervous system: the neural tube has now closed over and the brain is developing at one end. The liver beg to develop before the rest of the digestive system.

 

Your developing baby now resembles a tiny seahorse. This is because the tissue at the tail end grows faster than that at the front end, giving this distinctive shape. She is floating in a bubble of fluid, which will eventually develop into the amniotic sac. At this stage it is known as the yolk sac, and it provides your baby with oxygen and nutrients until the placenta is fully formed.

7nth week

By now you will probably be more aware of being pregnant because of the hormones rushing around your body, in particular progesterone, oestrogen, HPL and HCG. Your body is still working incredibly hard, and you will feel tired. It is during this week and the next that the tiny embryo that is your baby will be transformed into a human-looking fetus.

 

Development in 7th Week Pregnancy

 

The heart now has four clearly defined chambers and, although it is still simple, it has a regular beat.The lungs are developing, the muscles and bones are forming, and the limbs are beginning to take shape.The head and brain are growing rapidly, with ridges defining the three areas of the brain.

 

These areas will develop into:

The forebrain, which controls memory and thinking.

The midbrain, which is responsible for co-ordinating messages.

The hindbrain, which regulates the heart, breathing and movements of muscles in the body.

Nasal and oral cavities are developing, which will rapidly become facial features, such as the eyes, ears and mouth. Amazingly, your baby already has an appendix!

 

Appearance in 7th Week Pregnancy

 

The limb buds are now developing into more recognizable, paddle-shaped arms and legs. A neck is starting to separate the relatively large head from the body. There is a dark tinge where the eyes are forming, and eyelids are also developing. In profile, the tip of the nose is present. Your baby even has lips and a tongue, even though it is only the size of a baked bean!

 

Movement in 7th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby will start to make tiny'twitching'movements that may be detected by sensitive ultrasound eguipment. However, you will not be able to feel any movements until approximately 18 weeks of pregnancy. The sex glands are now developing, although, at this stage, it is impossible to tell the sex by ultrasound scan.

8th week

 

 

Medically speaking, the embryo is now officially called a fetus (meaning 'young'or 'little one'), although you have probably referred to it as'your baby'from the very beginning. Over the next 4 weeks development will be almost completed - with all major organs and systems working and features present, there will be rapid growth over the following months.

 

Development in 8th Week Pregnancy

 

The bones start to harden and lengthen, with distinguishable joints, such as wrists, shoulders and elbows.The pituitary giand, which is responsible for the production of hormones and growth, is developing. The kidneys now start to produce urine for the first time. The major organs are still developing but all of them are now in place. The intestines are long and some of them protrude into the umbilical cord. Your baby is living in warm amniotic fluid that consists mainly of water. This keeps her at a constant temperature, and protects and cushions her from any knocks or pressure, encouraging movement.

 

Appearance in 8th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is now recognizably human, with much more distinct features. Her body is losing its curved appearance and becoming straighter, and her limbs are more in proportion. Her skin is transparent, and blood vessels are visible beneath it. Eyelids continue to develop over her eyes, which are wide apart, on the sides of the head, rather like those of a bird. They will move to a more central position as her head and face develop further. The outer parts of her ears are developing on the side of her neck. Her fingers and toes are distinguishable, despite the webbing between them.

 

Movement in 8th Week Pregnancy

 

Messages are passing along the nerves to your baby's muscles, enabling her to make spontaneous movements, such as gentle kicking, rather than the previous'twitches'. At this stage, the messages are coming from the spinal cord rather than the brain.

Amniotic Fluid

 

Amniotic fluid is the straw-coloured, watery substance that surrounds your baby, protecting her and enabling her to move freely, and keeps the temperature in the uterus constant.

 

At 37.5 degree centigrate, the temperature of amniotic fluid is higher than that of your body.

Until 14 weeks, amniotic fluid is absorbed by your baby's skin. Once her kidneys start to function and she develops a sucking reflex, she swallows the fluid and excretes it back into the amniotic sac. However, all her nutrients come from the placenta via the umbilical cord.

Amniotic fluid contains a range of substances, for example, glucose, fructose, salt, proteins, amino acids, citric acid, urea, lactic acids and fatty acids. However, most of the fluid in the amniotic sac is actually sterile urine.

Amniotic fluid is a good conductor of sound, although most of what your baby hears in the womb will be muffled.

9th week

 

 

 

During the last 3 weeks, your baby has increased more than three times in size and now looks far more human. The'tail'has disappeared and the growth of the limbs is more in proportion to the body. As your baby goes through this major growth phase, so the placenta is also busy enlarging and building for its important life-supporting role.

 

Development in 9th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's heart is almost fully developed and is beating approximately 170 times per minute, more than twice as fast as that of an adult. An important band of muscle, which will become the diaphragm, now separates the cavity of the chest and the abdomen. The placental tissue is becoming concentrated in one area of the uterine wall but is not yet fully functional.

 

Appearance in 9th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's development and appearance is becoming more 'refined'. This week, growth of his hands and feet and his arms and legs is particularly rapid. His fingers have separated and his feet have lengthened. His upper lip is fully formed and his ears are more recognizable. His head is growing rapidly and is almost half the size of his body, appearing out of proportion. Growth is fast and, during the next 3 weeks, his body will more than double in length.

 

Movement in 9th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is now starting to make more definite movements, exercising his muscles, which will encourage their growth. As well as kicking his feet, he can also move his arms and spine, although you will not be aware of these movements for several weeks yet. Movements are one indication of a healthy baby and if you choose to have an ultrasound scan you will be amazed to see how much movement your baby does make, even though you do not feel it.

I did not realize that I was pregnant and I had too much to drink one night at a party. Will it have affected my baby?

 

Many women worry about what they ate or drank before they realized that they were pregnant. However, now that you do know, there is a lot that you can do to give your baby the best chance possible. Even if you have never drunk alcohol, mere is no guarantee that your baby will be free from problems, so adopt the healthiest lifestyle you can. Binge-drinking can be dangerous for the baby but the chance of one evening's overindulgence causing a problem is very small.

10nth week

 

 

Your baby is floating in approximately 50 ml of amniotic fluid and as she continues to grow, the amount of fluid will also increase, as it is largely made up of the urine she excretes! Your baby is developing rapidly, with changes taking place daily. Muscles in your baby's face are developing that will eventually enable her to suck and chew. By this stage, she even has distinctive fingerprints.

 

Development in 10th Week Pregnancy

 

The structure of your baby's brain is complete, although the cells continue to multiply. The palate of her mouth is forming and tooth sockets have formed in her gums. The umbilical cord is fully formed and blood is beginning to circulate through it, although the placenta is not yet formed. Her stomach and intestines are developed, and the muscles of her digestive tract are functional and starting to contract. Your baby's sex is still unclear because the genitals are not fully formed, but male and female characteristics are beginning to show.

 

Appearance in 10th Week Pregnancy

 

The most dramatic change is in your baby's face, which is really taking shape and now looks distinctly human. Her head is still large in relation to her body. Her eyes are moving from the sides of the head to the front, and are now covered by the eyelids. Her ears and mouth are forming. Her fingers and toes are no longer webbed.

 

Movement in 10th Week Pregnancy

 

As your baby's nervous system becomes more developed, her movements increase. You can detect even tiny movements of her toes. It has been observed on ultrasound scan that, if your abdomen is prodded, your baby will move in response.

Did You Know?

If you are having a dating scan, it will usually be around week 10. Drink plenty beforehand because, when your bladder is full, it helps the sonographer to get a clearer picture of your baby. It will be at this point that the number of babies you are carrying will be confirmed - although, if you are pregnant with twins, you might already have a suspicion because early pregnancy symptoms tend to be much worse.

The sonographer will take measurements of your baby, from which he or she will work out when your baby is due. It is a good idea to take some change with you because you might be able to buy a picture of your baby

 

 


11th week

By this point of your pregnancy your baby has grown to approximately the size of a small lime. By the end of this week his organs are not only formed but are also working. As a result of this, your pregnancy is stronger, your baby's development is not so vulnerable to environmental risks and the danger of you suffering a miscarriage is reduced.

 

Development in 11th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's heart is working hard, pumping blood around his body and through the umbilical cord to the area that is developing into the placenta. His outer ears are moving from the neck to the sides of the head, and the middle and inner ears are completely formed. The ovaries and testicles have developed inside the body but your baby's sex is not obvious from the outside because the genitals have not developed.

 

Appearance in 11th Week Pregnancy

 

Most of the time your baby will be in the fetal position, with chin bent down and knees curled up, but, despite that, he is very active. His limbs remain quite short but they are undeveloped because he has not as yet been moving them.

 

The more he moves, the stronger his muscles will become, and this will encourage their growth. His head appears large and out of proportion to his body, but his face is more rounded with discernable features.

 

Movement in 11th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is making more definite movements, moving his spine and stretching his arms and legs. He can even open and close his mouth!

Old Wives' Tales

According to folklore, if you suffer from heartburn in pregnancy, your baby will be born with a good head of hair!

 

The umbilical cord

At full term, the cord is about 50 cm long and 1-1.5 cm thick.

Your baby does not feel anything when the cord is cut after the birth.

After the birth, when your baby breathes, the cord has no further function though it provides him with extra blood and oxygen until it is clamped.

12th week

 

 

Your baby has grown to about the size of a lemon. This stage of pregnancy, which marks the end of the first 3 months, often feels like a milestone for many women because the risk of miscarriage is reduced after week 12. The major development of your baby is complete and the emphasis is now on growth. Although the placenta is small, it is now complete.

 

Development in 12th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's ears have moved to the sides of her head and the remainder of her face is now formed. Her jaws have tooth buds in place, and she can suck and swallow. She has an unmistakable chin and her nose is more obvious. Her eyelids are fused shut over her eyes. Her circulation is fully functioning, her kidneys are working, and her bones are becoming harder.

 

The muscles of your baby's intestine are moving, practising peristalsis, the contractions used to move food through the bowels.

 

Appearance in 12th Week Pregnancy

 

Her skin remains very thin and translucent and the blood vessels are visible through it. Her limbs are growing in length and are more in proportion to the rest of her body.

 

Tiny nails are growing on her fully formed fingers and toes. Her external genitals are forming,, although it would still be very difficult to determine the sex of your baby on an ultrasound scan.

 

Movement in 12th Week Pregnancy

 

The movements of your baby will increase as the muscles in her limbs develop, although you will not be aware of them. She can even move her fingers, clenching and unclenching her hands. Researchers have described a baby's movements, seen on an ultrasound scan at this stage, as'graceful'.

13nth week

Your baby is about the size of a peach, which is incredible when you think that he was only the size of a baked bean 6 weeks ago. He will grow rapidly over the next few months and, if you feel your lower abdomen, you may just be able to feel the curve of your expanding uterus. External genitalia is now just about developed enough for an ultrasound to detect gender.

 

Development in 13th Week Pregnancy

 

Aithough your baby's organs are formed they still need to mature over the following weeks. His hands and feet are fully developed and making lots of movements as messages pass from the spinal cord to the muscles. His joints and bones continue to get harder (ossify), a process that will continue even after he is born.

 

Appearance in 13th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's head is still relatively large but his neck is more defined. His arms and legs are growing longer, which makes them more in proportion with the rest of his body. He is sprouting fine hair (lanugo) over his body and at last, although tiny, he looks like a baby.

 

Movement in 13th Week Pregnancy

 

Because your baby's neck is now developed he can move his head freely. If you see your baby on ultrasound scan at this stage you would be amazed at how active he is. Because he can make movements with his mouth he seems to be making facial expressions!

How smoking can affect your baby

 

Smoking affects the growth of your baby by diminishing the supply of oxygen.

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and cot death.

Smoking increases the risk of stillbirth or of death within the first week of life.

Babies of smokers generally have a lower birth weight.

Babies of smokers are more likely to have breathing difficulties.

Babies of smokers are more likely to smoke as adults.

14nth week

 

 

Your baby is able to make facial expressions now and she will exercise her face muscles by frowning and pulling a variety of expressions. She weighs around 70 g and is the size of a pear, and would fit into the palm of your hand. Her face and body are far more defined than a few weeks ago - she is tiny and fragile, but very obviously a baby.

 

Development in 14th Week Pregnancy

 

Around this time your baby's thyroid gland starts to produce hormones. The external genitals are developing further and, in most cases, can be seen on an ultrasound scan. In girls, the ovaries descend into the pelvis and, in boys, the prostate gland appears. The skeleton is getting harder and becoming stronger and she even has tiny taste buds, which look like those of an adult but are not yet functioning.

 

Appearance in 14th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's neck is longer and her chin is now more defined, refining the shape of her head and face. Her eyes have become closer, although they will be sealed closed by the eyelids until 28 weeks of pregnancy. The bridge of her nose appears and her ears are higher on her head. Her face is now well developed and she even has very faint eyebrows appearing.

 

Movement in 14th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby can easily move around in the amniotic fluid and has plenty of space to do so. She is strengthening and encouraging the development of her muscles by exercising them more and more. She is kicking and twisting, her fists can grasp and clench, and she can even put her thumb into her mouth. She has periods of being awake and asleep, although, at the moment, you will not be aware of this.

Doppler scanning

 

Your midwife or doctor can use an ultrasound device, called a Doppler, to listen to your baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat will be amplified so that you can hear it too. It will sound very fast and will be about 150 beats per minute at this stage. The Doppler works by bouncing sound waves off red blood cells, which shows how fast they are moving, and how fast the blood is flowing.This checks the baby's growth rate and how well the placenta is functioning.

 

 

My partner does not seem to be bonding with my unborn baby in the same way that I am. How can I encourage him to feel differently?

Bonding can be difficult for a partner because he is not the one experiencing the signs and symptoms of pregnancy and it is easier for him to feel removed from it. At this stage of pregnancy the bones in your baby's ears are hardening so you can encourage your partner to talk to your baby, while gently laying his head on your bump. In a few weeks he will be able to feel the baby move when he places a hand on your bump. Involve him as much as you can by encouraging him to come to your antenatal checks and ultrasound scans. When he sees the baby on the screen, or hears the baby's heartbeat, your pregnancy will probably seem more real to him.

15nth week

 

 

Talk to your baby because the amniotic fluid that surrounds him will conduct sound. As well as your voice, he will be able to hear your heart beating and your stomach rumbling. Research shows that a newborn baby is very attuned to his mother's voice, presumably because he has got used to hearing it, even though it is muffled, from within the uterus.

 

Development in 15th Week Pregnancy

 

Although his eyes are fused shut, he is becoming sensitive to light and will appear to squint. If he has genes for dark hair, the cells of his hair follicles will be producing a dark pigment. He is opening his mouth and regularly swallowing amniotic fluid. He will turn towards the direction of any stimulus of his mouth.

 

Appearance in 15th Week Pregnancy

 

Overall, your baby's body is generally in proportion now and his legs are longer than his arms. As well, as the soft coating of hair over his body (lanugo) he is growing fluffy hair on his head. Very faint eyebrows and eyelashes are starting to appear, although his eyes are still closed. His skin is still very thin and translucent, and the complicated network of developing blood vessels can be seen beneath it.

 

Movement in 15th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is moving freely in the uterus as he still has plenty of room to do so. Although he may be laying head down one minute, he can easily be bottom down (breech) the next, as he twists and turns unhampered in the amniotic fluid.

Think about your baby

 

It is important to make time to think about your baby and to prepare yourself emotionally. If it is your first baby, you will probably know exactly how many weeks and days pregnant you are. However, if you have already had children, the weeks seem to fly by, often without a thought for the new baby inside you. This is where it can be beneficial to make time to attend aqua-natal or parent-craft classes because you can set aside time when you can think about your baby and chat to others about the pregnancy.

 

 

Why does the size of babies vary so much?

There are many things that determine a baby's size, some of which you have influence over and some of which you do not. Your baby inherits genes from two biological parents so, if both parents are small, he will probably be small as well. Lifestyle also has an effect on your baby's size. For example, your baby is more likely to be smaller if you smoke because he is receiving less oxygen and nutrients than he should. Your diet can affect the size of the baby, and if you eat a healthy balanced diet your baby is less likely to have a low birth weight. Medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can affect a baby's size but these are things that your midwife and doctor assess when they feel your abdomen. If they had any cause for concern they would refer you for a scan to assess the growdi. The size of your baby at birth is not necessarily related to his eventual size as an adult.

 


16th week

 

 

Your baby is fully formed and is continuing to grow rapidly. When you see an ultrasound image of her you might even feel that you can discern familiar facial features, such has her father's chin, or your mother's nose! You may also be surprised by her athletic prowess as you see her turns and squirms in the uterus, playing and exploring her environment.

 

Development in 16th Week Pregnancy

 

If your baby is a girl, more than 4 million eggs will have formed in her ovaries, although this number will reduce by the time she is born.

 

Nails are appearing on her fingers and toes, and her skeleton has developed to such an extent that it would be visible on an X-ray. Although she is receiving oxygen from blood, via the umbilical cord, she is practising breathing movements, encouraging her lungs to develop.

 

Appearance in 16th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's face looks human in appearance, particularly now she can produce different expressions. She can hold her head up straighter, yawn and may even suck her thumb.

 

Movement in 16th Week Pregnancy

 

This is the earliest stage at which you can feel your baby move, especially if this is not your first child. She is making a lot of movements, but they will be very subtle. At first, you may not be sure whether she is moving at all. Imagine the fluttering of a miniature butterfly or the popping of bubbles in a fizzy drink - a tiny movement - that is barely discernable and can sometimes be mistaken for wind! If you have any anxiety about not being able to tell if she is moving or not, do not worry. Her movements will get stronger each week, until you are in absolutely no doubt at all when she moves.

Six facts about your baby's movements

 

Although you will not have been aware of it, your baby started moving shortly after you were 8 weeks pregnant.

The first movements that you feel are referred to as'quickening'. If this is your first baby, you usually notice these at around 18-22 weeks. Otherwise you may recognize them earlier - closer to 16 weeks.

After 28 weeks of pregnancy you should feel your baby move approximately ten times a day.

Babies should not move any less as you get closer to your delivery date. If you feel that the movements are reducing or are less than ten a day, contact your midwife or the maternity unit so that you and your baby can be checked over.

Some women feel fewer movements than others, possibly because of the position of their baby. However, even if this is the case, you should still have close monitoring on a regular basis.

If a bright light is shone onto your abdomen at 16 weeks of pregnancy, your baby may raise an arm to shield her eyes.

17nth week

 

 

If the baby you are expecting is a boy, his testosterone levels will have peaked between 12 and 16 weeks gestation, not only affecting the development of his sexual organs but also that of his brain. Scientists have found that regular ultrasound scans beginning a few weeks after this can distinguish a male from a female brain.

 

Development in 17th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby now begins to lay down brown fat, which will play an important part in generating heat when he is born. The placenta is also growing quickly, providing a huge surface area that will provide him with nutrients and remove his waste products. No new structures are forming now, but existing ones are growing in size, developing further and becoming stronger. These are essential if your baby is to lead an independent existence outside of the uterus. By this stage he will weigh about 100 g and would still be able to fit into the palm of your hand.

 

Appearance in 17th Week Pregnancy

 

The soft downy lanugo makes swirly patterns, similar to those of fingerprints, all over your baby's body. His skin is still thin and very fragile because there is very little fat on his body.

 

Movement in 17th Week Pregnancy

 

His chest is making breathing movements like those he will make when he is born. However, he is not actually breathing yet because oxygen is being supplied via the umbilical cord. Rapid eye movements have been detected at this stage, suggesting that your baby dreams!

I'm 17 weeks pregnant and feel really low and miserable, and the slightest thing has me in tears. Will it affect my baby?

 

Mood swings and tearfulness are common in pregnancy because of the increased hormones in your body and because of sheer tiredness. Normal mood swings are unlikely to harm your baby. However, 10-15 per cent of women do get antenatal depression (in varying degrees). Talk to your midwife about how you are feeling as soon as possible. It is important to address this and to explore the cause, as there is an increased risk of developing postnatal depression, which, it is thought, can potentially affect the emotional development of your baby.

 

 

The placenta

 

By 17 weeks, the placenta is almost the same size as your baby.

After the first 3 months of pregnancy, when your placenta is fully functioning, it takes over the production of your pregnancy hormones.

At full term the placenta is round and flat, about 23 cm in diameter and 2 cm thick in the middle, getting thinner towards the edges.

In the last few weeks of pregnancy the placenta is normally situated n the top half of the uterus.

Nicotine, drugs and alcohol can pass through the placenta to your baby.

The placenta transmits some of your antibodies to your baby, helping to protect him against diseases to which you are immune.

18nth week

No new structures will be formed now. Your baby has everything she needs, but she is not mature enough to survive if she was born at this stage. You will probably start to feel her moving around this time. Babies appear to move more when their mothers are still so it may be movement that lulls them to sleep. It seems that babies continue to find being'on the move'comforting after they are born.

 

Development in 18th Week Pregnancy

 

The last organ to develop is the lungs, and will take many weeks. This is why premature babies often need help with their breathing. At this stage, tiny air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to form in the lungs. Her muscles are strengthening. Her kidneys are working and she is swallowing amniotic fluid and also urinating, thus maintaining the volume of amniotic fluid.

 

Appearance in 18th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's head and body are more in proportion now, and the facial features are very clear. Her skin looks red and her body is still very thin because the majority of fat will not be laid down until the final weeks.

 

Movement in 18th Week Pregnancy

 

There is plenty of room for your baby to move around. This movement is vital for the proper development of the muscles, joints and bones. Ultrasound scans have shown babies crossing their legs, somersaulting, or resting while sucking their thumb. She might already have a pattern of activity and rest time.

Anomaly Scan

 

This ultrasound scan at 18-20 weeks of pregnancy checks for obvious abnormalities with your baby and for the position of the placenta. Some sonographers will tell you the sex of your baby at this point.

19nth week

Your baby is responding to sound, movement, touch and light by this time and is much more aware of the outside world than he was earlier in your pregnancy. If he hears a loud noise outside your body, especially if it is sudden, he may jump or move around vigorously in reaction to it, although you may not always be aware of these movements.

 

Development in 19th Week Pregnancy

 

Millions of cells are growing in your baby's brain, and nerves are now connecting the brain to the muscles, so that he has more control of his movements. He has the same number of nerve cells as an adult but the nerves have yet to receive a protective layer of myelin. His system of temperature regulation continues to develop, and small amounts of a substance called'brown fat'are being deposited around his neck, chest and groin. At this stage the placenta is fully formed and will continue to grow in size. It is almost the same size as your baby, who is moving around in just a cupful of amniotic fluid.

 

Appearance in 19th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's ears now stand out from the sides of his head, whereas previously they were flat. Permanent tooth buds are appearing behind the buds of his milk teeth. His skin is wrinkled and is covered in a waxy substance called vernix, which is secreted from the sebaceous glands and provides a waterproof coating, as well as giving him some protection from infection.

 

Movement in 19th Week Pregnancy

 

You may be aware of some movement, although some women do not notice anything until 22 weeks. Your baby is still relatively small so there may be days when you do not feel very much - the foot that kicks you is only around 2 cm long! He has far more control over his movements and is using his joints to kick and punch, making fists with his hands and curling his toes.

 

If you could see him, you would see his tongue when he opens his mouth and see the expressions on his face changing.

Noise

 

Your baby's life in the uterus is so noisy that he gets used to constant noise. After he is born he may be comforted by sounds such as running water, the vacuum cleaner or a hairdryer. Some parents record the sound of a washing machine to play at bedtime! As far back as the 5th century BC, Hippocrates told pregnant women to listen to beautiful music.

20th week

Your baby's growth starts to slow down now and she is approximately half the length of a full-term baby. Her fat is not yet laid down and she weighs about 340 g. She is about the size of a small mango. From this point on she will start to put on weight at a rate of approximately 50 g per week. If she is to arrive on her due date, she's half way there.

 

Development in 20th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's development is focused on the lungs and digestive and immune systems. Her kidneys are passing approximately 7-17 ml of urine every 24 hours. Areas of her brain are developing that are specific to the senses of taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch. Her heartbeat is stronger and can be heard using a stethoscope.

 

Appearance in 20th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is thin and looks very delicate. Her eyes seem large because her face has not yet rounded out, and her eyes can move from side to side, although her eyelids are closed. She has more hair on her head, and her eyelashes and eyebrows are taking shape. Her legs are almost in proportion with the rest of her body.

 

Movement in 20th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's nervous system is more developed so she can co-ordinate her movements and is very active. She can grasp firmly, and can roll and turn.

Vernix

 

This greasy white coating is produced by oil glands in your baby's skin. It keeps her skin supple and protects it from immersion in the amniotic fluid. It is very thick around the eyebrows and is anchored in place by the lanugo. It lubricates and protects the skin during delivery. In some hospitals, it is cleaned off but it rubs off naturally after a couple of days.

 

 

Listening to your baby

 

Get your partner to place a cardboard tube from an empty kitchen roll low down on your abdomen. If he listens through it, he may be able to hear the baby's heartbeat. It will be a very subtle sound - like a very light pulsation. However, you should not worry if he cannot hear it - it takes practice to get the technique right.

 


21st week

 

 

Your baby is now a smaller, thinner version of how he will look at full term. He may already have recognizable family features! The next few weeks are crucial as his lungs mature, which is essential for his survival outside of the uterus. Even though he won't take his first breath of air for another 19 weeks, he still 'practises' breathing movements.

 

Development in 21st Week Pregnancy

 

The growth of your baby's brain is very rapid. It is at around this time that he is thought to develop memory, so play soothing pieces of music - they may also calm him after he is born. His tongue, complete with taste buds, is fully developed. He already has a high number of red blood cells and it is now that white blood cells are produced. These cells are essential for helping him to fight infection. If your baby is a girl, her uterus and vagina will have developed. If your baby is a boy, his testes will probably have started to descend towards the scrotum.

 

Appearance in 21st Week Pregnancy

 

Lanugo now covers your baby's entire body, but the hair growing on his head is far more visible, with eyebrows and eyelashes becoming more defined. His skin is growing, and he will soon start to lay down some fat. Over the next few weeks he will become less thin but will still be red and wrinkled.

 

Movement in 21st Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is very active and you will probably be aware of his movements. Babies appear to use the umbilical cord as a toy, trying to grab it and even squeeze it.

I've been told that I'm definitely carrying a boy because of the shape of my bump. Is this true or not?

 

Among all of the myths associated with pregnancy one of the most common is that the shape of your bump - to the front or all round, is dictated by the sex of the baby that you are expecting. The reality is that the shape of your bump depends on a number of factors related more to you dian to your baby, including which way die baby is lying in your uterus, how much weight you have put on during your pregnancy, your height, if your muscles have been stretched during previous pregnancies and the shape of your pelvis.

22nd week

 

 

Your baby is now the length of a large banana and would be too big to hold in the palm of one hand. By feeling (palpating) your abdomen, your midwife can now work out her position. However, there is plenty of time for this to change, and it may do so frequently. Knowing which position she is in can help you to visualize how she looks inside your uterus.

 

Development in 22nd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's sense of touch is maturing, and she will frequently stroke her face and suck her thumb. She is learning that she can move her limbs and make them touch each other. She can 'play' at crossing and uncrossing her legs, reaching out and bending her head to touch her hand. She is developing an awareness of herself and how the parts of her body are related and will use her hands to grasp other parts of her body.

 

Twins have been seen on ultrasound scans reaching out, touching and responding to each other.

 

Appearance in 22nd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's skin looks too loose for her, like that of a newborn puppy, because there is only very little fat underneath it. Her fingernails and toenails are growing and the lines and creases on the palms of her hands are becoming obvious.

 

Movement in 22nd Week Pregnancy

 

By now you will be aware of your baby's movements, especially when she'startles'in response to a loud noise. Even at this stage she will jump or kick if she hears the crash of a dustbin lid or loud music! Do not worry if she has a quiet day and does not seem to move very much. She is still only small and she may be awake while you are asleep. Your baby will be awake and asleep as much now as when she is born at full term. However, by 28 weeks of pregnancy you should feel her moving at least ten times a day. If you have any worries about your baby's movement, get in touch with your midwife.

Did you know?

Of the average weight gain in pregnancy, 38 per cent is the weight of the baby. The rest is made up of the placenta, fluid and blood, and the increased weight of the breasts and uterus.

 

 

I am 22 -weeks pregnant and am worried about getting chickenpox as a couple of my friends' children have it at the moment. Is there anything I can do to avoid it? Can it damage my unborn baby?

Most adults are immune to chickenpox, but if you cannot remember whether or not you had it as a child you can have your blood tested for antibodies. Developing chickenpox during pregnancy is rare, but it could affect a baby's development if the virus was contracted before 20 weeks or after 36 weeks of pregnancy. If you develop chickenpox, your baby could contract the virus (varicella infection of the newborn). If you think that you have contracted chickenpox during your pregnancy, you can be given an injection of immunoglobulin containing chickenpox antibodies, which will lessen the effect on your baby.

23rd week

If your partner lays his head on your abdomen, he may be aware of your baby's heartbeat as well as feeling some small ripples of movement. This will be a very special moment for him as it could be his first real opportunity to bond. Also, if the baby has older siblings, it is a good idea to let them enjoy this moment too, as it can help them feel that the new baby is already part of their family.

 

Development in 23rd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's bones, muscles and organs are steadily growing and his lungs continue to develop. There is also a lot of activity in his brain. Babies at this stage appear to prefer the taste of sweet to bitter!

 

Appearance in 23rd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's skin still looks'too big'for him - so he looks as if he is wearing an over-sized baby-grow suit - but it will fill out once the fat develops beneath it.The lanugo covering him darkens and the amount of sticky vernix increases, some of which may still be there when he is born. His eyes are still closed, but their colour is starting to develop.

 

Movement in 23rd Week Pregnancy

 

You may notice that your baby is developing a pattern of waking and sleeping. Many babies are active at night, when their mothers are still, but are rocked to sleep during the day when their mothers are moving around. This is probably why it is soothing for them to be held and walked around when they are newborn.

Did you know?

Researchers in California have found that, the happier the mother during pregnancy, the healthier the baby will be when it is bom. Apparently, the babies of women who have plenty of support from friends and family during their pregnancy grow better in the uterus.

24rth week

Depending upon the country in which you live, it is usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy that your baby is considered 'viable' which means she is capable of a separate existence. If she were born prematurely at 24 weeks, she might be able to survive in a special-care baby unit with the help of medical expertise and a ventilator to assist with breathing.

 

Development in 24th Week Pregnancy

 

Her lungs continue to develop daily, forming more air sacs. She is getting plenty of practice at breathing, by taking small amounts of fluid in and out of the lungs, her chest moving up and down. The centres of her bones are getting harder, and she has a normal amount of muscle. Her brainwaves show that she is almost as active as a newborn baby - increases in her pulse rate show that she reacts to sounds, such as loud noises.

 

Appearance in 24th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's face looks much as it will do when she is born, only not as well rounded. Her eyes are still closed, with distinctive eyebrows and eyelashes. More hair is growing on her head, and at this stage, you can even tell what colour it is. The vernix being produced sticks to her eyebrows and other hair on her body.

 

Movement in 24th Week Pregnancy

 

You may feel a tiny rhythmic movement in your lower abdomen that means your baby has hiccoughs! She is also responding much more to touch and sound.

I am 24 weeks pregnant and have just started antenatal classes. I am convinced that my bump is much smaller than everyone else's in the group and now I am worried that my baby is not growing properly.

Tell your midwife about your worries. She can reassure you and explain what she is doing at your antenatal check. One of these checks includes feeling the top of the uterus to make sure diat it is growing at the right rate and noting the size of your bump. If there is any cause for concern, your midwife will closely monitor you and refer you to the hospital for growth scans. Obviously some babies are bigger or smaller than average and the size of women's bumps always vary. Comparing fully clothed bumps is not an accurate way of judging the size of a baby because size varies depending on how many babies a woman has had before, the amount of fluid around the baby, the height of the woman and her baby's position.

 

Why does my baby get fits of hiccoughs in the uterus?

These are probably a result of your baby moving her chest in practice 'breathing'. These movements are thought to help babies to expand their lungs in preparation for their first real breath after they are born. Hiccoughs will be felt as a series of rhythmical movements and can last for up to 30 minutes. Don't worry about them, there are certainly not doing her any harm - many women find the sensation amusing

25th week

 

 

From 6 months, try singing the same songs or nursery rhymes to your baby on a regular basis. Singing combines a right (music) with a left (words) brain activity and will encourage the connections between the two halves of your baby's brain to grow. A fetus generally seems to react to his mother's voice best, and then to deep male voices.

Development in 25th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby now weighs about 680-850 g.The lungs, which were originally spongy-solid, are now filling with air sacs, each wrapped in a network of blood vessels. There is no air inside them at the moment, just fluid from the amniotic sac. This passes in and out as your baby practises breathing, his chest rising and falling as he does so.

 

Appearance in 25th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is looking more like a proper baby, although his head is still relatively large in comparison to the rest of his body - even a newborn baby's head takes up one quarter of his length and is wider than his shoulders. His arms and legs are still quite thin, as the fat stores at this stage of his development make up just 1 per cent of his total body weight.

 

Movement in 25th Week Pregnancy

 

Floating in the amniotic fluid, your baby is able to move vigorously and to stretch his arms and legs in a more deliberate way. He is reaching out and touching whatever he encounters around him, like the umbilical cord, grabbing his feet, and even sucking his thumb or fingers.

 

Did you know?

 

Nerve cells (or, properly, neurons) are produced in the fetus at a (mind-boggling) average rate of 250,000 per minute!

 

 

Preparing yourself

 

Mentally preparing yourself is part of adjusting to life with a baby, particularly if you have a busy life. Try to make time every day when you can think about your baby. Imagine how he looks now, and what position he is in and what he will be like when he arrives. Talk to him as you stroke your bump.

 


26th week

 

 

It is encouraging to think that your baby would have a good chance of survival if she was born now, although she would still need a great deal of highly skilled medical attention to help her survive. From 7 months, play classical music to your baby.This will help to speed the development of right-brain spatial skills and increase the likelihood that your child will excel in sports!

 

Development in 26th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's nervous system is maturing, including the ceils in the cortex of her brain that are used for conscious thought. Her brain is increasing in size, and the nerve circuits are linked up with the brain cells. The nerve fibres are now encased in myelin, a fatty substance that enables messages to travel faster along the nerves, thus boosting her ability to learn, remember and move. Meanwhile the smooth surface of her brain develops the ridges and valleys that vastly increase its surface area. At this point, she can feel pain. This week, she will partly open her eyes, which are almost fully formed. A few babies are born with brown eyes, but most babies'eyes are blue and remain blue until the colouring develops, often several weeks after they are born.

 

Appearance in 26th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's skin is not as red as it was in earlier weeks, and it is no longer translucent. A thin layer of fat has already started to accumulate under her skin, which makes her look paler, less wrinkled and generally less fragile overall.

 

Movement in 26th Week Pregnancy

 

You will be very aware of your baby's movements as she still has room to turn around and will prod against the wall of your uterus with her sharp fists and knees. You may start to recognize the parts of her body as she kicks and prods you, making odd shapes on your abdomen. Some mothers-to-be say that they can even feel the 'scratching'of their baby's minute fingers against the wall of the uterus.

I'm 26 weeks pregnant and I'm having real problems sleeping and feel so exhausted the whole time. Can I ask my doctor for some sleeping pills or would they harm my baby?

Like all medicines, sleeping tablets are best avoided during pregnancy. It is better to try to get to sleep naturally if you can. The best means of doing this is to make sure that you are relaxed and comfortable. Try to get some light exercise during the day. Avoid eating heavy meals late in the evening or you will not have time to digest them, but if you are peckish, have a light snack or a glass of warm milk.

 

Make sure that the bedroom is at a comfortable temperature: being too hot or too cold will make sleeping difficult. Although it sounds easy, try not to worry about being unable to sleep, this will just make it more difficult. Distract yourself by getting up to watch the television for a while, or read a book or magazine. When you feel sleepy, try again.

 

If no commonsense ideas seem to work, talk to your doctor who may prescribe something for you.

27nth week

 

 

Your baby now weighs approximately 1 kg, about the same as half a honeydew melon! He may be lying in a bottom-down position at this stage or even across the womb (transverse), but he is quite likely to turn into the more usual head-down position any time from now, in preparation for birth. This may not happen until quite close to full term, however, and you may still feel quite sharp movements.

 

Development in 27th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's bones, muscles and organs continue to grow, and he is becoming stronger with every passing week. If he was born now, and given the right specialist care, he would have about an 85 per cent chance of survival. However, he would still be unable to keep his lungs inflated and would have a problem keeping himself warm because there is not enough fat on his body yet. He would also be more susceptible to infection because his immune system is immature. Although he could probably survive in an incubator, the best incubator by far over the next few weeks, providing him with everything he needs to thrive, is your uterus.

 

Appearance in 27th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's eyelids are open and he will start to blink. He looks much the same as he will at full term, only smaller and thinner.

 

Movement in 27th Week Pregnancy

 

It would be convenient if your baby's sleep-wake phases coincided with yours, but they rarely do. Perhaps this is nature's way of preparing you for disturbed sleep after the birth! A more likely theory is that your baby is rocked to sleep by your daytime activities, which takes up about four-fifths of his time, then wakes up and starts his own stretch-and-exercise routine just as you settle down for the evening.

28th week

 

 

You may feel more in touch with your baby now, recognizing her wakeful times and the sort of sounds that she likes. You may feel that she is responding to your moods. Indeed there is evidence to show that the mother's hormones (for example the stress hormone, Cortisol) do actually cross the placenta so your baby may be relaxed or agitated according to how you feel.

 

Development in 28th Week Pregnancy

 

Most of the smaller airways and tiny air sacs (alveoli) in your baby's lungs have developed. The amount of fat on her body is increasing, making it easier for your midwife or doctor to identify the position that she is in when they feel your abdomen. However, she still needs to develop substantially more subcutaneous fat in order to be able to regulate her own temperature when she is outside of the uterus.

 

In baby boys, the testicles may have descended into the scrotum by now, although, in some cases, this will not happen until after they are born.

 

Appearance in 28th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's head is more in proportion with the rest of her body. Her hair, although still fine, is growing longer. The lanugo gradually starts to disappear, remaining only in a few patches around her neck and shoulders. Her skin is damp and shiny, well covered now with white vernix, and is generally looks less wrinkled, becoming plumper every day.

 

Movement in 28th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby may move around, making your bump heave and bulge, to show you that she is uncomfortable with the way you are sitting and lying. At other times a loud noise might startle her.

 

She may respond to chemicals and hormones from your body, which enter her bloodstream via the placenta and umbilical cord.

29th week

You may start to feel impatient, imagining what your baby looks like, and wish that labour would come early. However these next few weeks in the womb are absolutely crucial to your baby's development, as he lays down fat stores that will keep him warm in the outside world and his lungs mature preparing him for independent breathing.

 

Development in 29th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's eyes can now focus and he can also blink. He may be able to see shadows and silhouettes of shapes of the outside world. Beneath his skin, a layer of fat is buildi ng up that he will use for warmth and energy when he is bom. His lungs are continuing to develop and he is growing at a rate of approximately 1 cm each week.

 

Appearance in 29th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's head is now in proportion to his arms and legs. The fatty deposits under his skin give him a less wrinkled appearance. He has not yet acquired the plump appearance of a full-term newborn baby but he is looking far less'prune-like'than before. Because his skin is thicker, you can no longer see the network of tiny blood vessels beneath it.

 

Movement in 29th Week Pregnancy

 

There is still plenty of space for your baby to move, and you should be feeling at least ten movements a day. He may not be somersaulting as often as before, but he can still turn in your uterus and will be very active, often when you want to sleep.

 

Small Babies

 

'Small for dates'babies (also known as fetal growth retardation, small for gestational age or intrauterine growth restriction) are often detected at around this time.

 

If your baby is suspected to be smaller than expected for his gestation then you may be offered some ultrasound scans to monitor his growth. You will also need more frequent antenatal checks. You may also be offered a scan that looks at the blood flow through the placenta to the baby, to check that it is working efficiently.

30th week

Although you are probably counting the days to the birth now, you may also become anxious as the date becomes closer and more of a reality. Many women worry that they may go into premature labour, especially if they have particularly strong Braxton Hicks tightenings. These can be uncomfortable but should never be painful.

 

Development in 30th Week Pregnancy

 

If your baby was born at this stage, she would have an excellent chance of survival, although her immune system and lungs are still immature and will continue to develop. Your placenta has been transmitting your antibodies to your baby, providing her with some immunity against infections and diseases. By breastfeeding, you will continue to provide her with antibodies after she is born.

 

Appearance in 30th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby will probably be lying head down, with her knees curled up into her chest. She is becoming plumper now, so her skin is looking smooth, but she is still covered in greasy, white vernix.

 

Movement in 30th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby will still be able to stretch out and kick you or punch against the wall of your uterus. You may be able to recognize which way she is lying and the different parts of her body as she moves. You may even feel a 'scratching'sensation as she moves her fingers against the wall of your uterus. Do not worry about any possible injury to either you or the baby. She is surrounded by fluid, which protects you both and lessens the impact of any strong movements.

 

Introduce your bump to your other children - she will already have been listening to their voices and so will recognize them when she arrives in the outside world. Interest your older child in your bump and explain that there is a new younger brother or sister on the way, so that he or she can be looking forward to the event, too.


31st week

 

 

Your baby is now at least as long as a stick of celery! He is very aware of the noises and movements inside your uterus as well as influences from the outside. He will be aware of you exercising, talking, singing and playing music, and of changes in light. He will even be able to feel you massaging your abdomen, so talk to him as you do it so that he can also hear your voice.

 

Development in 31st Week Pregnancy

 

The main developments at this stage are in your baby's lungs. The cells lining the air sacs of the lungs secrete a substance that is known as surfactant. This is a lubricant that prevents the tissues of the lungs sticking together. This is a major milestone in your baby's development, because without surfactant, he will be unable to breathe outside the uterus.

 

Appearance in 31st Week Pregnancy

 

Now the layers of subcutaneous fat are getting thicker and the blood vessels no longer show through, your baby's skin looks much healthier and is not as dark or reddish as it was earlier in his development. The skin on his face, in particular, is smoother and his face looks round and chubby. His body fat now accounts for 3.5 per cent of his bodyweight but, by birth, this will rise to 15 per cent.

 

Movement in 31st Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is becoming more aware of stimuli so will be very active, responding to sounds and movements. He can even feel when you have a Braxton Hicks contraction - which is no cause for alarm as they do not hurt him although you may find them uncomfortable. Since his 'living conditions'are now rather cramped, due to his size, for most of the time he will have his chin on his chest, his arms across his chest and his knees curled up. Even though he has less space than earlier, you should still be feeling at least 10 movements a day.

I am 31 weeks pregnant and worried about having a premature baby. If I go into early labour can anything be done to stop it?

This will depend on whether or not your cervix has started to dilate. A drug can be administered via a drip to relax the uterus and stop the contractions but, if your cervix is opening, then labour will probably continue. Women who show signs of premature labour are often advised to have two steroid injections that will help with the development of the baby's lungs.

32nd week

As your baby grows, she no longer 'floats' in the amniotic fluid but rests in the uterus, most often in the head-down position. If your midwife confirms that your baby has not yet turned head down, you can encourage her to do so by adopting an all-fours position. Do not worry, though. There is still plenty of time for her to get into her final position.

 

Development in 32nd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's hearing is becoming more finely attuned. Her environment is constantly filled with noise - the sounds of your stomach, your heartbeat and the blood rushing through the umbilical cord. It is not surprising that newborn babies do not need quiet to sleep when they have become used to such constant sounds. The lining in the air sacs of your baby's lungs continue to secrete surfactant. Unless her breathing system is mature, she will not be able to breathe unaided when she is born.

 

Appearance in 32nd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby looks like a smaller version of a full-term baby but is still very delicate. A few creases are developing where she is laying down fat, at the top of her thighs and on her arms. The hair on her head continues to grow and there may still be a light covering of soft lanugo across the back of her shoulders and along the tops of her arms.

 

Movement in 32nd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby may still be looking for a position in which to settle when it comes to the birth. By now most babies are head down, but there are many who will still turn around. She no longer has as much room to somersault but mothers often notice when their baby changes position and can tell the difference between a hard head and a bony bottom, or a rounded fist and a pointed elbow

33rd week

 

 

By this stage of pregnancy you are probably communicating with your baby on a regular basis, even if you are not always aware of it. Many women inadvertently stroke their abdomen or talk to their baby, and your baby is increasingly aware of the sounds, movements and emotions that you communicate to him. Get your partner to massage your bump with gentle, sweeping, rhythmic movements.

 

Development in 33rd Week Pregnancy

 

The main focus now is on growth. Your baby needs to become bigger, fatter and stronger in order to maintain his body temperature, feed well and fight off any infections that come his way.

 

His immune system is still developing and, although his major organs are complete, the extra weeks are crucial for the final stages of the development of his lungs, which are maturing fast.

 

Appearance in 33rd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby looks very much the same as he will at full term, but smaller and generally more'delicate'. His skin appears paler because of the build-up of white fat beneath it. This fat will have a big impact on his appearance, making his skin smoother and plumper, with dimples at the elbows and knees and creases in the wrists and neck.

 

Movement in 33rd Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby is still quite active. You and your partner may be able to recognize the shape of a small foot or elbow pressing against your abdomen, or a little bottom pushing beneath your ribs. If this is especially uncomfortable, try changing position, which may in turn encourage your baby to shift. Getting down on all fours or going for a swirn can often do the trick.

Did you know?

 

Your body responds to your different emotions by producing hormones, which are transmitted to your baby through the placenta. This is referred to as sympathetic communication. In this way, your baby becomes aware of whether you are frightened and upset, or happy and relaxed.

34rth week

 

 

As your due date comes closer there may be days when you feel positive anticipation and others when you feel very apprehensive. The best way of dealing with these fears is to gather as much information as you can about pregnancy and birth. If you haven't done so already, talk to your midwife about your concerns. It is important that you feel in control of your pregnancy as well as your baby's birth.

 

Development in 34th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby continues to iay down fat - by now fat makes up 15 per cent of her weight - which she will need to keep warm. Her lungs are almost mature and she might even be able to breathe for herself if she was born now. Although her brain and nervous system are fully developed, her sucking reflex would still be poor. Her taste buds are fully developed and there is some evidence to show that she has developed a preference for certain flavours.

 

Appearance in 34th Week Pregnancy

 

Most of the soft downy lanugo has disappeared from your baby's body, but the hair on her head is becoming thicker. Her skin will be soft and smooth, and her body is covered with a layer of waxy vernix. Her gums have a 'ridged'appearance that is sometimes mistaken as being teeth.

 

Movement in 34th Week Pregnancy

 

Sometimes your baby will press part of herself so hard against the wail of your uterus that you feel compelled to push back. This vigorous movement will probably be from a foot or a knee. A more gentle 'flickering'type of movement is more likely to be a hand. Although your midwife will tell you which way your baby is lying, you will probably have a good idea yourself from identifying the position of her limbs as they move.

Did you know?

 

The placenta reaches maturity by 34 weeks. It will continue to provide your baby with oxygen and nutrition until she is born.

 

Ultrasound scans can detect rapid eye movements (REM) in sleeping babies before they are born. This suggests that babies spend as much as 60 per cent of their sleeping time in the last 3 months of pregnancy dreaming. For the rest of it they will be in deep, dreamless sleep.

 

When your baby is born, she will sleep for approximately 16-17 hours out of 24. Roughly half of this is REM sleep.

35th week

You do not have much longer to wait now. After all the preparations, labour and the birth will soon be a reality. However, even if your pregnancy was twice as long, you would still never feel completely prepared for labour and your role as a mother. The years ahead will be a learning curve, with the first few months presenting the greatest challenge as you get to grips with all that needs doing.

 

Development in 35th Week Pregnancy

 

Although your baby is still growing in length, his rate of growth has slowed down. He is becoming plumper, laying down fat cells, mostly around his shoulders. All his organs are fully mature, apart from the lungs. These final weeks are very important as far as his lungs are concerned. Their development needs to be complete so that he can breathe without assistance.

 

Appearance in 35th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby looks very much like the one that you will soon meet. His skin is smooth, with a few dimples, and by now he may even have a good head of hair! Dark-skinned babies normally have more hair than light-skinned ones, and it can reach up to 4 cm. He will still be covered in vernix, although some of it will have been shed into the amniotic fluid.

 

Movement in 35th Week Pregnancy

 

He is reacting now, with movements and facial expressions, in a similar way as he will when he is born. Your baby will frequently respond to sounds. You will feel him 'jump'at a loud noise, or move when he recognizes a piece of music or your voice. He can hear sounds outside of the uterus at about half the volume that you can.

I sometimes notice my bump tightening. Does this mean I'll go into labour early?

What you're describing are Braxton Hicks tightenings. These mild, irregular tightenings have, in fact, been there throughout your pregnancy but you just haven't been able to feel them until now. Braxton Hicks tightenings get more frequent and intense towards die end of pregnancy, and some women notice them from about week 25. They are in fact practice tightenings, getting your uterus ready for labour. Unlike the contractions diat happen in labour, they are not painful and are irregular.


36th week

 

 

The Braxton Hicks tightenings will probably feel quite uncomfortable at times, as your uterus gets ready for labour. Practise breathing through them when you feel your abdomen tighten. Your life is probably revolving around waiting for your labour to start and confirming that all your arrangements for the birth and for the first few weeks afterwards are in place.

 

Development in 36th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's development is almost complete, although she would still be considered premature if she was born at this time. Her lungs continue to develop and, every day, more fat cells are being laid down in a layer underneath her skin.

 

Appearance in 36th Week Pregnancy

 

Your midwife should have a good idea of your baby's size when she palpates your uterus to check that it is still expanding at the right rate and also to feel your baby's position. Even if she is not a large baby, her cheeks will be plump. By now, her nails wiil reach her fingertips. When she is bom they will probably be long enough for her to scratch herself- although they are very soft, almost like paper.

 

Movement in 36th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby has less room to move around but you should still feel at least ten movements a day. These will feel more like a large'shifting'movement rather than arms and legs waving around. If she is in the breech position, you will probably be aware of an uncomfortable bump right under your ribs where her head is pressing.

Did you know?

Your uterus normally weighs about 50 g, but by week 36, it weighs more than 1 kg - that is more than 20 times heavier than normal

37nth week

 

 

If you are planning to have your baby in hospital, by now your bag should be packed. Since your baby could arrive any time, remember to take essentials (money, phone, address book) with you when you go out, and take your hospital bag with you in the car -just in case! Even if you intend to have your baby at home, you should pack a hospital bag in the event that things do not go according to plan.

 

Development in 37th Week Pregnancy

 

All major development of your baby is complete. From now on he will continue to grow in size and strength and to lay down fat- up to 28 g a day! The cells in his brain will continue to multiply and develop for the first few months of life after the birth.

 

In boys, the testicles usually descend into the scrotum about now. However, in approximately 3 per cent of cases, this does not happen until after the birth and surgery may sometimes be necessary, usually before the age of 2 years.

 

Appearance in 37th Week Pregnancy

 

Your baby's appearance will not change drastically now. He is a slightly smaller version of what he will look like when born.

 

Movement in 37th Week Pregnancy

 

At about this time your baby's head will start to descend into the pelvis. Once his head is well down and engaged, you may notice that your bump has 'dropped' and looks lower.

 

If this is not your first baby, this dropping often does not happen until labour, because your muscles do not have the tone they had first time round and so don't hold the baby in place so well. When he does descend his movements will probably seem less vigorous, although you should still be feeling at least ten movements a day.

I'm 37 weeks pregnant and last week my midwife told me that my baby is in the posterior position. What exactly does this term mean?

This means that, at the moment, your baby is lying with his back towards your back, although he might turn during the first stage of labour so that he is lying with his back towards your front (anterior), which is the ideal position. There are things that you can start doing now to encourage him to turn into the anterior position.

38th week

 

 

Your baby is now fully formed and the birth is imminent. If her head has engaged into the pelvis, you may notice that your abdomen has changed shape. If not, do not worry - some babies, especially if this is not your first, do not engage until labour starts. Once the head has engaged you may find it more uncomfortable to walk.

 

Development

 

Fat is still being laid down under your baby's skin and, as long as there are no problems with the placenta, she will continue to grow while she is inside you.The fat will be lying in folds and her cheeks will become plumper. Her heart is beating at approximately 110-160 beats per minute. She has 300 bones at the moment, whereas an adult only has 206. This is because some of her bones will later fuse together.

 

Appearance

 

Most of the soft, downy lanugo covering her body has now been shed, apart from a light covering across the top of her back and shoulders and behind her ears. Her body is still covered in greasy white vernix because she will continue to need 'waterproofing' until she is born.

 

Movement

 

As space becomes tight in your uterus, your baby will be tightly curled up, with her chin tucked onto her chest and her knees drawn up iO her abdomen. Her movements will be less vigorous but she should still be active. Research suggests that babies have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep from 23 weeks of pregnancy, which indicates that they are dreaming - this encourages the development of the brain. As your baby is asleep for at least 60 per cent of the time, that is a lot of time to dream!

The fontanelle

 

The bones of your baby's skull remain soft so that bones can ride over each other and mould to the shape of the birth canal. As a result, her head may be slightly pointed when she is born and she may have some swelling on either side of the head. This is only temporary. However, there will be a soft spot on the top of her head, called the fontanelle, for about 18 months, until the bones fuse together.

 

 

You are probably feeling very uncomfortable by now and getting as much sleep, or as little, as if your baby had arrived. Your baby may also be feeling uncomfortable, squashed up with not much room to spare, and you may feel him trying to shift his position from time to time as he tries to stretch in the increasingly confined space available in your uterus.

 

Development

 

Your baby's immune system continues to develop. Some of your antibodies will pass to your baby through the placenta.These will help to protect him against diseases and infections. This protection will only last a few weeks, but by breast-feeding you will boost this protection by providing him with your antibodies in the colostrum and breast milk.

 

Appearance

 

Your baby's body will now be well rounded, with a healthy covering of fat. His skin is smooth, still with areas of vernix. His toenails have reached the end of his toes. The amount of hair he may have varies: he could be completely bald, have a few downy patches or have a full head of hair, although its colour may change during the first few months after he is born.

 

Movement

 

If your baby has developed a pattern of waking and sleeping, this may continue after he is born. If your baby has been active at a particular time of day, this may continue even after the birth. When you go to bed, play some calming music and talk to him gently - this can soothe him if he is unsettled at a particular time of day. Many women recognize their baby's 'playtime', often during the evening and anticipate this after the birth! You should still be getting plenty of movements (at least ten a day) but they will not feel quite so vigorous now as they did in earlier weeks.

40th week

our baby is probably one of the 96% of babies who is head down and deeply snuggled into your pelvis. The immune system is still immature and the baby receives antibodies from the placenta and after birth they will receive antibodies continually from your breast milk. Most of the lanugo has fallen off the baby's body, although you may still find some hidden spots, particularly in the creases, and around the shoulders or ears.

The average baby will be about 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms) and 20 inches long at birth. Your baby will be judged, at birth and 5 minutes later, with an apgar score.

40 weeks is a rough guess about when baby will be born, but babies are full term at 37 weeks. This end of pregnancy is a guess - how long will your pregnancy last? Did you believe your baby would be late or early? While babies are born a few weeks before or after the due date, everyone feels differently about when labor will begin or when induction is appropriate.


41st week

urprise! You're still here. That's okay you aren't alone. While some moms have their babies prior to their due dates, many moms don't have their babies until after their due dates. It is also possible that your due date was miscalculated.

You may see your practitioner more often. Some want to do a non-stress test to ensure baby is still doing well. The American College of Ob/Gyns doesn't recommend elective inductions. While you're tired of being pregnant, induction is harder on both you and the baby, often leading to increased intervention, including c-sections

 

Okay, are you surprised that the baby is still in there? You shouldn't be! He or she is tucked away, happily, inside. The average first time mother will go more than four days past her due date. Remember that the due date was more of a guess than anything based in science!

Your practitioner will still be monitoring you and the baby for the proper growth, fetal movements, and signs of labor.

 

As long as there have been pregnant women, there have been stories talking about how sex at the end of pregnancy will bring on labor. Some people say it's the actual intercourse, some say it's the orgasm, others claim nipple stimulation. Then again, there are people who say that sex will not cause labor, even at the end of the third trimester.


42nd week

 

A vaginal exam may be performed to see if your cervix is favorable. Remember that not all of the preparations for birth can be measured by a vaginal exam. There may be health reasons to induce, though by the end of this week 98% of women will be enjoying new babies. Sometimes the mother has an illness, like PIH or diabetes that means a birth sooner would be better than later.

So, settle in and enjoy the last few days of pregnancy. And remember to enjoy those last few hours of baby movements, it will be what you miss later!

Baby:

Babies honestly don't tend to get that much bigger after 37-38 weeks. A baby who is truly postdates (after 42 weeks) is usually characterized by the loss of weight and body fat.

Remember to do those fetal kick counts to monitor the baby's health in between visits to your practitioner.

Now that you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, have you thought about what you are going to call the grandparents? While grandma and grandpa are fairly common, there are plenty of others names to use for grandparents. There is mawmaw and pawpaw, nana and granddad, bubbye and zaidye. Some of these names herald from family tradition or personal preference. Some grandparent names come from whatever the new baby learns to say first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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