You are now more than halfway through your pregnancy and are probably already warming up for labor and delivery. Reaching the 29th week means your baby has over 90% chances of surviving with special medical assistance if you were to give birth this week .
The muscles, lungs, digestive tract and other internal organs continue to mature during the 29th week . The fetal airways are maturing while his bronchioles and alveoli are increasing in number. Your baby would even be able to breathe on his own if he was born this week, although he would need assistance as he would probably tire easily . The respiratory system will continue to mature until your baby reaches 8 years of age .
His head grows in size to support the developing brain , which is now developed enough to regulate your baby’s body temperature . This week is important for the maturation of the part of the brain responsible for your baby’s personality and intelligence . The brain will also produce billions of nerve cells during the last few weeks as they stop growing after your baby is born .
Once you enter the third trimester, your baby looks more like a newborn than a fetus, with the growing fat layers smoothing out the skin. The waxy white layer of vernix caseosa begins to disappear gradually along with the fine layer of downy hair (lanugo) covering his body .
The white fat layer accumulating beneath his skin is much different than the brown fat your baby has been developing for the past few weeks. The brown fat is responsible for maintaining fetal body temperature while the white fat (the fat present in newborns as well as adults) serves as a source of energy . However, your body temperature is necessary to keep your baby warm until birth as it is still too early for him to start regulating his body temperature on his own .
As he becomes more responsive to light and sound in week 29, his eyes begin to focus as well .
With the baby-teeth buds already developed, this is the week when the permanent teeth buds begin to form . The third trimester is crucial for the fetal bone development as well with around 250mg of calcium deposited in his hardening skeleton per day .
Your baby’s kicks and punches are likely getting more frequent as he grows in size and strength. He will have enough room in the uterus to move about and practice limb movement for a few more weeks before it gets too cramped for the last months of pregnancy . You might also feel occasional rhythmic movements or fetal hiccups that last for several minutes at a time. Each baby has a unique pattern of movement and you have probably grown familiar with the movements of your own growing bundle of joy.
After the 28th week, your doctor will ask you to keep track of your baby’s movements by kick counts. Take some quiet time twice every day to count the kicks or any other detectable movement. Ten movements in one hour (or less) means everything is fine. In case your baby moves less, have some fruit juice or snacks, lie down and start counting again. Call your doctor if you feel less than ten movements within the next two hours .
The baby is rapidly nearing his birth length, being about 15.2 inches (38.6 cm) long this week, as big as a butternut squash . But, he is still quite skinny with a lot of weight to gain in the coming months. Weighing around 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg) , his weight will double up or even almost triple in the last few weeks before delivery .
You can feel the top of the uterus between 3.5 and 4 inches above your bellybutton . The ideal weight gain by this point of pregnancy should range between 19 pounds and 25 pounds for women with a normal BMI. Overweight or underweight women should consult their doctor to find out the proper weight gain levels.
It is normal for your breasts to continue leaking the yellowish fluid (colostrum) as your body is still preparing for breastfeeding. Colostrum contains certain antibodies that help your baby build proper resistance to prevent common illnesses and fight various infections during the first few days after birth . So, those planning to go for infant formula instead of breastfeeding should consider it at least for the first couple of days of their baby’s lives.
Women carrying twins should gain a total of 30-40 pounds  with the weekly weight gain ranging around 1.5 pounds after the 28th-29th weeks .
An ultrasound exam performed this week will show your baby looking almost like he would on the day of delivery. You will also probably catch him moving his still-thin limbs while making different facial expressions. It is normal for your baby to lie feet-down (in a breech position) at this stage as there is plenty of time for him to turn and come into the proper head-down birth position .
Your doctor might order a blood test to check the iron levels and to determine whether you need supplements . A biophysical profile or nonstress test might be performed to check your baby’s health, if you notice him becoming less active .
Published on August 23rd 2014 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 23rd August 2014.