Hey -- how's the view in there, baby? Right about now, your little one will open his eyes (they've been closed for a couple of months) and take a look around. So what does he see? Studies have shown that, at the very least, he is able to detect changes in light. If you shine a flashlight against your belly, your baby may move toward (or sometimes away from) its beam. Your baby's first visual impressions outside the womb will be sorted into light and dark, too -- that's why many toys designed for newborns are black and white.
Eyelashes appear around this time, too. On a newborn, lashes make charming frames for the eyes, but they also serve an important protective role, shielding the sensitive surface of the eyeball from any debris.
Next week you officially enter the third trimester, when baby's main job will be to bulk up. At the start of the third trimester, the average baby weighs about two and a half pounds and measures 12 to 16 inches. With the big job of organ and nerve development just about wrapped up, your baby will gain weight -- mostly in the form of body fat --very quickly now. The fat will fill out most of the wrinkles in her skin and supply her with insulation and energy.
In boys, the testes are usually completely descended into the scrotum by this point. In the female, the labia are still small and don't yet cover the clitoris. The labia will grow closer together in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Take a bow -- if you can! You and your baby have reached the home stretch. This week, the first in the final trimester, your baby is getting a big head. His brain is growing so quickly now that his soft, flexible skull bones are being pushed outward. The tiny, complex computer that is your baby's brain is gaining power and speed. Once relatively smooth, the brain is now looking more wrinkled. The increasing number of nooks and crannies provide more room for interconnections between individual nerve cells. Around this point, brain wave patterns start to resemble those of a full term baby at birth.
Those muscles and organs are growing steadily, and the baby is at the peak of its movement about now. Later in the third trimester, space starts to get cramped and, in turn, fetal acrobatics decrease.
Your baby likely tops three pounds now and measure up to 17 inches in length. The lanugo, the downy hair that has covered most of her body during the past weeks, begins to disappear at this point. When she's born, she may still have a few patches of fuzz, usually on her back and shoulders, but these remnants will disappear within a few weeks of birth. The hair on her head is thickening, too, though this hair is often a temporary topping that begins to shed about a month after birth, to be replaced down the road by more permanent hair.
Copyright © 2001 Meredith Corporation.
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