All the senses are maturing and developing more and more with each passing day. The baby may have its eyes closed all the time, but it can sense light and darkness through its thin eyelids. The ears have developed their shape, but are still far too soft. However, they can hear; the baby will remember voices and pieces of music if played repeatedly during pregnancy. Babies use their hands to touch their face and body at this point, and the taste buds on the tongue are developing. Head hair also starts growing now. How much hair babies have when they are born varies; some are born with a full head of hair, while others have a little bit of down that only appears in the right light. The skin remains thin and looks reddish because of all the blood vessels near the surface, and because the subcutaneous fat isn’t quite in place yet. This will arrive in the next few weeks.
Have you noticed your belly become momentarily firm, and then soften up again? These are Braxton-Hicks contractions which may start popping up now, but which tend to be more common towards the end of pregnancy, from the third trimester. Think of them as your uterus practicing for childbirth. Even if it feels scary the first few times, it isn’t dangerous for your baby. They are more common when you’ve been particularly active, like after exercise or sex. If it’s a little excessive, not just with sex, but in daily life, then consider this your body’s way of speaking up. If you have Braxton-Hicks contractions at night when you’re relaxing after the day, consider taking it a little easier in general. But if they’re happening often, or while resting – even though you haven’t been stressed – then talk to your medical provider to rule out a urinary tract infection. You always want to avoid that, but it’s especially important to watch out for while pregnant. If this isn’t your first baby, then get ready: chances are high that you will have earlier and stronger contractions than the first time around.
Your partner may experience Braxton-Hicks contractions as of now, but they will be more common toward the end of the pregnancy. This is how the uterus practices for childbirth and it often happens after a little extra activity. If life is a bit stressful in general, it may be the body’s way of saying it wants to take it a little easier. It’s good to know this as a partner, and the two of you can talk about ways to destress.