If your baby is going to have dark hair, the pigment will start to be produced now. But it isn’t certain that any hair will be there just yet – for many babies, it doesn’t arrive until a few months after birth. However, the eyebrows will pop up this week. The thin skin all over the body is now covered with colourless wool-like lanugo hair. This probably helps the baby retain body heat, and it gradually disappears the closer it is to birth. Small, thin blood vessels are visible through the delicate skin. The cerebellum and spinal cord are established. The baby will begin storing calcium, which is used to develop the bones and marrow. Even though there is no air, the baby still makes breathing motions with its ribcage, as if to practice. It can also put its thumb in its mouth now.
As a mother, your heart hasn’t only swollen emotionally to hold the little baby in your belly – it’s also increased its capacity. The reason is the increased volume of blood, which can make some women short of breath and produce heart palpitations. This can feel scary the first few times it happens, but it’s completely harmless. The uterus is getting bigger, but in the beginning of pregnancy, it mainly grows upward, which means the downward pressure tends to lighten. So maybe now you can celebrate the fact that the most acute phase of constantly having to pee is behind you. Do you vaguely remember it – the waist you used to have? Along with your favourite pair of tight jeans, it’s but a mere memory. At least for the next year. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you probably have a slightly bigger belly this time than last time. That’s because your skin and belly have gone through it all before, which means they can stretch and broaden more easily this time around.
Your baby will soon be able to hear sound. This means you can sing and talk to it through the belly and your baby will recognise your voice once it’s born. It could feel a little strange at first to sit and sing to a belly... but for the baby, it will be very comforting to hear a familiar voice once it arrives in the world. You can encourage any siblings to talk to the baby, too. Research shows that infants prefer light voices – have you noticed that, maybe completely unconsciously, you use a lighter voice when talking to little kids? And by the way, did you know that humans aren’t the only mammals that use this technique? Dolphin mothers sing to the baby in their belly so that it recognises the mother’s special sound when it’s born. Dolphins have different names for each other, and it is thought that the mother sings her name to the baby over and over.