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What is happening with your developing baby during pregnancy?

Your baby’s development during pregnancy

Your baby undergoes an incredible transformation during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Find out what’s happening with your baby in the three trimesters of pregnancy.

First trimester (week 1–week 12)

At four to five weeks:

  • Your baby’s brain and spinal cord have begun to form.
  • The heart begins to form.
  • Arm and leg buds appear.
  • Your baby is now an embryo and about 100 millimetres long.

At eight weeks:

  • All major organs and external body structures have begun to form.
  • Your baby’s heart beats with a regular rhythm.
  • The arms and legs grow longer, and fingers and toes have begun to form.
  • The sex organs begin to form.
  • The eyes have moved forward on the face and eyelids have formed.
  • The umbilical cord is clearly visible.
  • At the end of eight weeks, your baby is a fetus and looks more like a human. Your baby is nearly 2.5 centimetres and weighs less than 4 grams.

At twelve weeks:

  • The nerves and muscles begin to work together. Your baby can make a fist.
  • The external sex organs show if your baby is a boy or girl. A woman who has an ultrasound in the second trimester or later might be able to find out the baby’s sex.
  • Eyelids close to protect the developing eyes. They will not open again until the 28th week.
  • Head growth has slowed, and your baby is much longer. Now, at 8 centimetres long, your baby weighs about 45 grams.
Second trimester (week 13–week 28)

At 16 weeks:

  • Muscle tissue and bone continue to form, creating a more complete skeleton.
  • Skin begins to form. You can nearly see through it.
  • Meconium (mih-KOH-nee-uhm) develops in your baby’s intestinal tract. This will be your baby’s first bowel movement.
  • Your baby makes sucking motions with the mouth (sucking reflex).
  • Your baby reaches a length of about 10 to 13 centimetres and weighs almost 90 grams.

At 20 weeks:

  • Your baby is more active. You might feel slight fluttering.
  • Your baby is covered by fine, downy hair called lanugo (luh-NOO-goh) and a waxy coating called vernix. This protects the forming skin underneath.
  • Eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, and toenails have formed. Your baby can even scratch itself.
  • Your baby can hear and swallow.
  • Now halfway through your pregnancy, your baby is about 15 centimetres long and weighs about 260 grams.

At 24 weeks:

  • Bone marrow begins to make blood cells.
  • Taste buds form on your baby’s tongue.
  • Footprints and fingerprints have formed.
  • Real hair begins to grow on your baby’s head.
  • The lungs are formed, but do not work.
  • The hand and startle reflex develop.
  • Your baby sleeps and wakes regularly.
  • If your baby is a boy, his testicles begin to move from the abdomen into the scrotum. If your baby is a girl, her uterus and ovaries are in place, and a lifetime supply of eggs have formed in the ovaries.
  • Your baby stores fat and has gained quite a bit of weight. Now at about 30 centimetres long, your baby weighs about 700 grams.
Third trimester (week 29–week 40)

At 32 weeks:

  • Your baby’s bones are fully formed, but still soft.
  • Your baby’s kicks and jabs are forceful.
  • The eyes can open and close and sense changes in light.
  • Lungs are not fully formed, but practice “breathing” movements occur.
  • Your baby’s body begins to store vital minerals, such as iron and calcium.
  • Lanugo begins to fall off.
  • Your baby is gaining weight quickly, about 200 grams a week. Now, your baby is about 38 to 43 centimetres long and weighs about 1.8 to 2 kilograms.

At 36 weeks:

  • The protective waxy coating called vernix gets thicker.
  • Body fat increases. Your baby is getting bigger and bigger and has less space to move around. Movements are less forceful, but you will feel stretches and wiggles.
  • Your baby is about 41 to 48 centimetres long and weighs about 2.7 to 3 kilograms.

Weeks 37–40:

  • At 39 weeks, your baby is considered full-term. Your baby’s organs are ready to function on their own.
  • As you near your due date, your baby may turn into a head-down position for birth. Most babies “present” head down.
  • At birth, your baby may weigh somewhere between 2.8 kilograms and 4 kilograms and be 48 to 53 centimetres long. Most full-term babies fall within these ranges. But healthy babies come in many different sizes.

Read more about what is happening with you during the three stages of pregnancy.

 

Source: Adapted from Office on Woman’s Health – Stages of pregnancy