Sunday, April 6, 2008

36 weeks

Your baby is still packing on the pounds — at the rate of about an ounce a day. She now weighs almost 6 pounds (like a crenshaw melon) and is more than 18 1/2 inches long. She's shedding most of the downy covering of hair that covered her body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected her skin during her nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, resulting in a blackish mixture called meconium that will form the contents of her first bowel movement.

Your baby's face has filled out significantly and looks smooth and plump. Because she has powerful sucking muscles and has had layers of fat forming for quite some time now, the cheeks have filled out like a newborn's. Her skull is firm, but not hard. Every baby's head has the ability to give slightly so that there is room for her to fit down the birth canal during delivery. Some babies are born with cone shaped heads from the pressure of delivery, but this will go away after delivery.

At the end of this week, your baby will be considered full-term. (Full-term is 37 to 42 weeks; babies born before 37 weeks are pre-term and those born after 42 are post-term.) Most likely she's in a head-down position. But if she isn't, your practitioner may suggest scheduling an "external cephalic version," which is a fancy way of saying she'll try to coax your baby into a head-down position by manipulating her from the outside of your belly.

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