During these last few weeks (or days!) before birth, your body and your baby's body are preparing for the rigors of labor. The umbilical cord begins passing antibodies to your baby in preparation for delivery. By stockpiling antibodies, your baby will be better prepared for the disease and germs she'll encounter outside the womb.
Added weight will also help your baby survive, and thrive, once she's born. Her body needs plenty of insulation now that she'll no longer be able to rely on the warm environment inside the amniotic sac to keep her cozy. Her body will need to start doing that job all on its own after delivery -- of course, you'll also be there to hold her close and keep her snug.
Your baby's senses are also getting more time to hone her burgeoning skills. She can hear and recognize your voice. Once she's born you'll be able to see her turn her head in your direction when she hears you speak. She knows her mom! Along with her hearing, her eyesight is improving each day. Her fingers are also becoming more coordinated. She can grasp her face or toes. And after birth she'll be able to grab onto your finger.
On a side note, sonographers rarely see an unborn baby's reactions to light sources in utero. Since ultrasounds are usually performed in darkly lit rooms, your baby doesn't have any light to react to!
Terms to Know
Mucus plug: The thick, phlegmlike substance that forms a ?plug? in the cervical opening. This ?cork? keeps germs from entering the uterus and harming your unborn baby. In the days or weeks before delivery you might notice a mucuslike discharge, indicating that you are losing your mucus plug. The loss does not mean that delivery is imminent, but that your body is readying for birth. Some expectant mothers never notice the loss of their mucus plug.
Important Information About Your Pregnancy
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Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM.org).