Check out what happened with your baby's development last week.
How sweet the sound. Your baby loves hearing you read or sing. In fact, studies show that newborns prefer the sound of their mother's voice over other voices. Research has also found that newborns show a preference for a song that was played to them repeatedly while they were in the womb. It's not too late to start: Pick a time each day to play a beloved CD or tape, sing your favorite song, or read your baby a story. He'll come to love this special time you spend together, whether he's in your uterus or in your arms.
The incredible, shapable skull. Your baby's head is specially designed to travel through your cervix and pelvis. The bones in his skull aren't fused together yet; this loose construction makes his head very shapable so it can squeeze through the birth canal without harming him or you. These bones will gradually fuse over the first year of life.
Measuring up. Your little one weighs between 5.5 and 6 pounds this week and measures nearly 19 inches.
Stepping up the checkups. You'll see a lot of your doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner from now until you deliver. Most health care providers will want to see you weekly starting at 36 weeks so they can watch for signs of labor. Your provider will also check your blood pressure during each visit and make sure your urine doesn't contain any protein. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are potential warning signs of preeclampsia, a condition of pregnancy that can be risky to you and the baby.
Living large. Your uterus is now a thousand times its original volume. (Since it's up under your ribs, making breathing more and more difficult, this fact may not come as a surprise to you!) You've probably put on 25 to 30 pounds by now. Over the next four weeks, it's likely you'll gain only a few more pounds. Many women gain nothing at all in their last month of pregnancy. Your uterus may not be the only thing expanding. Even if edema (the medical term for swelling caused by excess fluid) hasn't troubled you up to now, you may retain more fluid in the last month of pregnancy. Whenever you can, take a few minutes to rest with your feet elevated or lie on your left side. Both positions will increase circulation, getting the fluid in your extremities moving. A note of caution: Reducing your fluid intake will not reduce edema. You still need your eight glasses of water each day to clear waste through the kidneys, move your bowels, and keep your blood volume up.
From the experts. If you're having a baby boy, you'll have to decide whether to circumcise him. "About 60 percent of boys born today in the United States undergo circumcision, and that number decreases each year," says Suzanne Dixon, M.D., M.P.H. You should consider carefully the pros and cons of the procedure now so you won't have to make a hasty decision right after birth.