The baby is now around 8 cm long and is in the midst of an intense phase of growth. It is getting stronger and stronger, and the movements are more and more intentional – even if it isn’t voluntary yet: the baby can hold up its head for a little while; its hand can somewhat clumsily grip, and its foot can kick. The proportions are gradually sorting themselves out: the legs are longer than the arms now, and the body is growing. The eyes and ears are moving to their proper places, and the bridge of the nose has appeared. Amniotic fluid is forming constantly, until the baby comes to term. Myelin production, which is important, also begins now. Myelin is the insulation surrounding the nerves, which send communication signals through the brain. Its production continues throughout the first few years of a baby’s life.
Your uterus is now slightly above your pubic bone, and your body continues to change at an ever-increasing rate. Your belly is getting bigger and bigger; you’re getting out of breath more easily, and your pulse is a little faster than usual. Sound tough? Despite all this, a lot of people find they’re starting to feel pretty good at this point – maybe because their belly isn’t heavy yet, and the body is experiencing a sense of calm in relation to expecting a baby. Have you noticed a hint of a dark stripe on your belly? Many people develop a straight line from the upper belly down to the pubic bone, called the linea nigra. This develops due to an increase in pigmentation while pregnant, caused by hormones. The stripe will likely fade away once your baby is born. All that extra pigmentation caused by hormones could also result in pigmentation elsewhere, for example on your face. This is called chloasma; you can avoid it by using a high SPF sunscreen and making sure to keep your head and face in the shade while you’re out in the sun. You should always be cautious in the sun, so just be a little extra mindful now while you’re pregnant.
It can be hard to understand a pregnancy when you’re living in the middle of it – not so much for the pregnant person, but for the partner, it is a bit strange if things feel abstract. Maybe you already have a working name for the little bun in the oven. If not, it might be easier to imagine your baby if you give it a nickname. That can make it easier to think about your baby as a little individual, and you can fantasise about what their personality will be like, or what they’ll look like. Writing down your thoughts and feelings – or simply what happened during the day – can make it easier to go back later and reflect on how things felt then. Seeing it written down can also clarify your connection to the little life waiting to meet you.