Last week, your baby opened his eyes for the first time in four months, and he began to see light and shadows. This week, if you shine a bright light against your abdomen, he may open his eyes and turn away from the light, as if to say, "Hey Mom, shut that off—I'm trying to sleep in here."
Loud and clear. Your little one's sight isn't the only sense that's working. His brain wave patterns indicate that he's responding to sounds in the environment. What's he able to pick up? The sound of your voice, the growl of your stomach when you're hungry, even noises outside your body. His brain waves are also starting to show differences during sleep. These sleep cycles will become clearer and more distinct as he gets closer to his due date.
Breathe easy. This is a vital stage in your baby's lung development. Blood vessels are forming throughout both lungs. When he takes his first breath of air, his lungs will absorb the oxygen, then send it into these vessels, which will circulate the oxygenated blood throughout his body. Your little one is also just starting to manufacture a substance, called a surfactant, which keeps the air sacs in his lungs from sticking together. The surfactant will allow him to breathe properly after birth. The bronchial tubes are also maturing, dividing into smaller and smaller branches.
Measuring up. Your baby is gaining weight rapidly now—he may weigh about 2.3 pounds. Crown to rump, he measures 10 inches, but if you were to stretch him out he might be around 15 inches long.
Rh follow-up. If preliminary blood tests showed that you're Rh negative, you'll be given a shot of RhoGAM this week, just in case your baby is Rh positive. This shot will keep your body from producing antibodies to any of your baby's blood cells that may have crept into your circulation. Your baby will be tested right after birth; if she is indeed positive, you'll be given another shot of RhoGAM at that time to protect future pregnancies.
The mark of pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, stretch marks may appear on your skin, especially on your abdomen. You may also see these pink, red, or white streaks on your hips, breasts, buttocks, or thighs. Many creams and lotions on the market claim to prevent stretch marks or to keep them from spreading. Whether they work is open to question. Most experts agree that there's not much you can do to avoid getting stretch marks. Chalk it up to genetics—if your mother got them, you probably will too. Still, applying creams to your belly certainly won't hurt, and it may keep your skin from getting dry and itchy. The good news is that stretch marks usually fade after birth.
Two left feet. Are you feeling klutzy these days? Your shifting center of gravity, along with your loosened joints, can make for a lot of bumping into tables and tripping over your own toes. There's not much you can do about this, except to wear flat shoes and slow down.
From the experts. You've probably been nausea-free for some time, but now you may face two different tummy-related annoyances, heartburn and indigestion. Why now? "During pregnancy, the entire gastrointestinal system slows down," explains Margaret Comerford Freda, Ed.D., R.N. "As a result, the muscles of the stomach and esophagus relax, allowing digestive acids to enter your esophagus and mouth." To find out how to cope with heartburn and indigestion, read more from Dr. Freda.