If you could see your baby right now, you'd laugh as she tests out her developing muscles by making lots of funny faces -- squinting, frowning, even smiling in the womb. You'd be astonished by her paper-thin skin, through which a network of fine blood vessels runs like a series of miniature roads. She is developing lanugo, a fine, downy hair that covers her body and protects her skin. Lanugo begins to disappear before birth, but some babies -- especially those born early -- may still have a fine covering of it on their shoulders, backs, and foreheads as they come into the world. This hair usually disappears within a week or so after birth. Beneath her skin, your baby's skeleton is hardening, transforming from cartilage to bone as she continues to absorb calcium. Her bones will stay flexible, however, so that she can easily make the journey through your birth canal. They won't harden enough for her to stand until she's a toddler.
Her ears are nearly in position, and she can turn her head. She can make fists and point her toes too, though most of the time these movements are reflexive. Her hair has started to grow, and it may have a little color as the pigment cells of her hair follicles kick in. You'll need to decide soon whether you want to know the sex of your baby before you give birth; the external sex organs are nearly complete, so an ultrasound can reveal whether you're having a boy or a girl.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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