This week your baby-to-be's bones continue to develop. You might notice that they've become stronger and more solid each time he gives you a quick jab in the ribs.
While the bones do mature in utero, it's important that they stay flexible to allow for more growth not only in the womb, but also once your baby is born. A baby's bones continue to grow and harden well into childhood.
Flexible bones are also necessary for delivery. The bones on your unborn baby's head are made up of large pieces. These cranium plates aren't fused together, but they come together toward the center and top part of your unborn baby's forehead. You might have heard some people refer to this as a newborn's ?soft spot.? Because these skull pieces aren't fused together, but can move, the baby's head can more easily be pushed through the birth canal.
If the unborn baby's skull were hard and immovable, it would be impossible to deliver a baby through the relatively small opening in the cervix -- even though it does stretch to 10 centimeters!Terms to Know
Anterior fontanel: The gaps where the bones come together on the skull of an unborn baby (which can be observed on a newborn) are called the fontanels. The largest, the anterior fontanel, is a ?soft spot? that looks almost like a diamond shape under the skin on your baby's forehead. The bones in the cranium will eventually fuse together sometime during the first 12 -- 18 months of your baby's life.
Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.
Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM.org).