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The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Forty

Your baby is plump now; a full 15 percent of her body is made up of fat that will help her regulate her body temperature. She probably weighs between 7 and 8 pounds and is about 21 inches long if she's an average-size baby. Most of her body hair has disappeared, but she still wears nature's wet suit--a thin layer of that greasy white stuff called vernix caseosa that will provide additional protection against the first cool air on her skin.

Her body has been processing bilirubin--the breakdown product of red blood cells--by moving it across the placenta into your body where it is flushed out along with other waste products. Once your baby is born and her umbilical cord is clamped and cut, she will have to rid her own body of bilirubin. This may take a few days after birth; if levels of bilirubin build up in her body, she may become jaundiced. The classic symptoms of jaundice are a yellowish tinge to the skin and whites of the eyes. Usually, this is nothing to worry about. Exposure to light generally takes care of things.

At week 40 your baby recognizes your voice better than anyone else's. At long last she's ready to meet you.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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