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The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Twenty-Two

It's time to pull out your favorite children's book! This week, your baby can hear you more clearly because the bones of his inner ear are developed enough to detect vibrations. Some studies suggest that your baby will feed more vigorously if you read to him in utero, so why not try it? It's fun and it's a great way to connect with your baby.

Your baby will be busy exploring other sensations too, stroking his face as he gets to know himself. His fingernails have grown long enough to cover his fingertips by now, and his liver is capable of removing destroyed red blood cells (bilirubin) from his blood. (Babies who haven't yet developed the ability to do this are sometimes jaundiced and may look yellow at birth; this is easily treated with light.)

Your baby's heartbeat is so powerful now that you may be able to hear it with just a stethoscope. He continues to practice swallowing, gulping down amniotic fluid not for nourishment but because he's opening and closing his mouth to work his jaw muscles and tongue. Since everything you eat crosses through the placenta, your meals season the amniotic fluid he's swallowing. Your baby's taste buds are now developed enough to taste different flavors. In fact, ultrasounds of babies may even show them grimacing after their mothers have eaten garlic or spicy food. These different tastes prepare your baby to prefer your own uniquely flavored breast milk.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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