The baby’s bone centres are beginning to harden and thousands of tiny veins are now clearly visible through the baby’s skin. It should be possible to hear the baby’s heartbeat through a stethoscope or a special foetal trumpet. Your baby’s brain is now showing similar waves to those of a new-born.
Measuring between 22cm and 32cm in length, your baby can now respond to external sounds as well as internal sounds including music and the sound of your and your partner’s voices. It will also respond to touch. If you press on a small heel or elbow sticking out from your belly, you will feel your baby kick or spin inside you. These little kicks may be slight at first though further down the line they can be quite forceful and even painful.
Your baby’s heartbeat has now dropped to an average of 150 beats a minute. Its skin, though still very wrinkled, is thickening to gradually become opaque. A layer of fat slowly begins to build up beneath the skin and the exterior is now covered in a protective white, greasy substance called the vernix caseosa produced by sebaceous glands.
The vernix acts as a lubricant in the womb so that the baby does not get tangled in the umbilical cord. Its body length will increase by an average of 1cm a week and its weight is about 820 grams. As it continues to grow, you may notice stretchmarks appearing though these usually fade after the birth. You should still be fairly mobile.
The baby is developing its own immunity to infection via the antibodies that cross the placenta. The first milk your breast produces, called colostrum, is high in nutrients and helps stimulate your baby’s digestive system. Your baby’s senses are awakening. Its eyes are open and it can see and focus although vision is limited until a few weeks after the birth. It can even tell which way up it is inside you.
Your weight gain will be regular from now until around week 36. Your practice contractions are likely to be more recognisable from this stage on.
It may be between 25-35cm long and could weigh as much as 900 grams or 2lb. Its breathing will become more rhythmic and constant. Because you are carrying so much extra weight, you may have cramping in your calf muscles.
Avoid pointing your toes downwards and help alleviate the cramps by stretching. You will probably feel huge and awkward and breathing may get more difficult as your ribs have to lift about 5cm to let your womb expand.