Your baby has definite sleep-and-wake cycles, but she probably sleeps about 70 percent of the time. Ultrasounds reveal that sometime between 32 weeks and 36 weeks babies develop the ability to dream. They have definite periods of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. Your baby also has periods of quiet alertness in which she listens to the exciting sounds beyond her dark room.
At almost 4 pounds, your baby is definitely big enough by now to survive outside the womb. Her lungs are maturing, and her heart rate is starting to slow down a bit. However, research shows that the fetal heart rate speeds up if the mother is stressed, so stay as relaxed as you can to help your baby stay peaceful.
Your baby is still kicking, and all of that kicking is good practice for what she'll instinctively do if she's put on your belly after birth: She'll scramble her way up your belly to your breasts, where she will latch on and nurse.
This list includes some of the common reasons to perform an ultrasound at this point in your pregnancy:
Incompetent cervix: According to the American Pregnancy Association, an incomplete or weakened cervix may occur as the baby grows and gets heavier, pressing against the cervix. This pressure may cause the cervix to begin opening before Baby is ready to be born. This condition may lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery (however, this complication occurs in only about 1 out of 100 pregnancies).
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Images courtesy of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM.org).