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The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Thirty-Six

As your baby's "rapid growth" period approaches an end, she will top 19 inches and almost reach 6 pounds. However, she will continue to add weight in the form of extra fat until delivery. Those nails are so long, in fact, that she might even scratch herself in utero. The only organ that isn't fully mature yet is her lungs. If she hasn't done so already, this is probably the week that your baby will drop into the birth canal.

You have probably gained 25-30 pounds, and you probably won't gain much more in the final weeks of pregnancy.

The placenta's role is coming to an end and producing fewer hormones now that your baby's body is capable of being more independent from yours. Your baby has developed a nicely functioning pair of kidneys, and her liver is processing some of her waste products. You still provide antibodies for your baby through your bloodstream. These antibodies can protect your newborn from whooping cough, mumps, measles, and even mundane coughs and flu.

As your baby has grown inside you, she has developed a sucking reflex. She's tested out that reflex on her own thumbs and fingers. Now she's well equipped to nurse. Her gums are hard and ridged--almost as if teeth are emerging--and those will help her latch on to a nipple to feed herself when the time comes.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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