It’s time for some numbers: the baby is about 37 cm long. Its feet are about 4 cm long, the femurs are 5 cm, and the head has a diameter of 7 cm. In total, the little bundle weighs almost 1 kilo. The skin is still red, thin and covered with vernix, but the face is a bit rounder now. You might be able to feel a little foot pressing into the belly now – this is the baby testing its strength. If you carefully press against it, the baby might press back. All movements, large and small, that the baby makes are strengthening its muscles. If the baby were born now, it would have more than a 90% chance of surviving; it has most of what it needs to live outside the uterus. The lungs can breathe in air, even if they would probably need assistance at first – and the intestines can process milk. However, the baby has almost no subcutaneous fat, so it would need a lot of help to maintain its body temperature. The more time the baby spends inside the belly, the better – during the third trimester of pregnancy, which starts soon, the baby gathers subcutaneous fat and finishes maturing.
Have your feet turned into a big pair of lumps at the ends of your legs? That’s because your body has started a new hobby: gathering fluid! It will often feel fine in the morning, but become worse in the evening, especially if the day has been exhausting. Resting your feet in an elevated position and investing in a good pair of shoes can do wonders. Yes: on Instagram you might see pregnant women bopping around in heels, but that’s a rare species. It’s also not a great idea, because tight shoes can make your feet swell even more. You might not exactly be celebrating at the idea of a pair of “comfortable” shoes but if ever there were a time to value function over form, this is it. It isn’t hard; most sports or running stores have good walking shoes, as well as soles or inserts for more support. If you want a pair of functional shoes, but don’t like the way they look, you can always try changing the shoelaces to magically transform them into a pair of ordinary sneakers. If your belly prevents you from even wanting to go near tying a pair of shoes, sandals are your best friend and can work much of the year with a pair of socks. And be sure to leverage your privilege as a pregnant person to put your feet up on the table as often as you can – even when you’re visiting someone else.
Your baby’s hearing is getting better and better, and the more you talk and sing to the belly, the more the baby will recognise your voice upon arrival. This will strengthen your bond and give your baby an extra sense of security. Simply browse through memories of children’s songs you loved as a kid and learn them again. You’ll surely notice sooner or later that kids love repetition. A mental exercise for you as a parent might be to sing, with endless enthusiasm, songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider “da capo” – on both the inhale and exhale. Songs aren’t just a cosy way to generate closeness and connection; music also supports children’s cognitive abilities. They say kids who are sung to learn language and maths better. Memory and fine motor skills also seem to be positively impacted – and who knows, maybe your baby will love dancing, too!