Fetal Development Weeks 36 Through 40

Week 40

The day you've been waiting for is here at last! Of course, your baby doesn't know that it's your due date--she may decide to linger in her cozy uterine home up to two more weeks. But whatever birthdate she chooses, she'll be bringing along a bag of tricks: a full-term baby can display more than 70 different reflexes, the automatic and unlearned behaviors needed for survival. One such behavior is crying, a sound you're sure to hear very soon. But don't expect to see tears right away: babies are born with an underdeveloped tear duct system. Tears don't usually show up until 1 to 3 months of age.

The mother's partner in the birthing room is often allowed to cut the umbilical cord after delivery. This lifeline between placenta and fetus may be up to 4 feet long at birth. After the cord is cut, a remnant will remains attached to the baby's abdomen. It will drop off sometime in the first month, leaving behind a tiny belly button, a permanent reminder of those precious nine-plus months when mother and child were bonded together as one.

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