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The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Nineteen

With all of those exhilarating new muscles and nerves to try out, your baby will probably stretch upon waking, though at this point she's still waking with her eyes closed. She probably weighs about 7 ounces now, and she could be as long as 8 inches. Her eyes and ears are finally in position. If you saw her on an ultrasound this week, you'd probably be able to tell whether she has her grandmother's nose or her father's chin. You might also discover whether your baby is a boy or a girl.

As your baby gets ready to be more in control of her own movements, her body is busy making myelin, a fatty substance that coats and insulates the nerves throughout her body so that electrical impulses can travel from her brain out to the tips of her toes and back again. She has as many nerve cells as an adult now.

That fatty coating on your baby's body is getting thicker. Her oil glands are now producing vernix caseosa, a greasy white coating designed to protect her delicate skin from the harsh amniotic fluid. The coating will mostly disappear by birth, but if your baby is born early, she might look like she's been dipped in yogurt. Because she is still developing fat on her body, her skin is loose-fitting and wrinkled, but that will change soon.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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