The inside story Your baby’s monthly milestones
Take a look at what your growing baby is up to in the womb!
If you take a blood test at a laboratory, it’s possible to get a positive result as early as one week after conception. If you test at home this early, you may get a false negative at this stage. Your foetus has started to wee. The kidneys are still primitive, but they already produce some urine. The facial features develop. Each ear begins as a little fold of skin at the side of the head. Tiny buds that eventually grow into arms and legs are forming. Fingers, toes and eyes are also forming. At 12 weeks, your growing embryo starts to yawn, between one and three times an hour. Fingernails also appear now. The beginnings of teeth are forming. The reproductive organs also develop, but the gender is difficult to distinguish on ultrasound at this stage. Lanugo is very fine hair that covers the foetus’ whole body. Your little foetus even has a moustache of lanugo. It disappears before birth. Elephants, whales, seals and primates also have lanugo, but only the human being loses it before birth. At around week 20, girl foetuses will already have produced about seven million egg cells – the total amount they will ever have. At birth, there are around two million, and at puberty there will be about 400 000 left. You may begin to feel your baby move at this stage. At week 24, your baby is the size of a sweet melon, and the organs are fully formed. The baby now has the face of a newborn baby, although the eyes may look prominent because fat pads are yet to build up in the cheeks. If born prematurely, your baby may survive after the 23rd week with intensive care. Your baby’s main job right now is putting the finishing touches on major organ systems, such as the brain, lungs, and liver. Your growing baby can taste and smell, and the eyes can produce tears. The bones are almost fully developed, though still soft. Weight gain is rapid from now on. The brain will increase 400 to 500 percent in weight between now and delivery. Your baby practices breathing motions in preparation for birth. All five senses are developed, and REM (dream-cycle) sleep is beginning. Lanugo begins to disappear. Your baby will continue to mature and develop reserves of body fat. You might be surprised to feel your baby hiccup sometimes! With one month to go, your baby is getting a bit cramped for space in the womb. Still, you should be able to feel your baby move more than 10 times a day. You might see him suck his thumb on an ultrasound. Your baby is now fully formed and ready to be born! He could go past his due date, however, so your doctor will monitor you carefully to see if you need to be induced. His skull bones aren’t fused yet, which makes his journey through the birth canal a little easier.