While baby continues to grow stronger and bigger, it’s still a fragile tiny being so baby is getting some extra protection. This protective substance is called vernix caseosa and is completely covering your baby’s skin. While it literally translates to “cheesy varnish,” the substance is comprised of oil from baby’s glands, dead skin cells, and downy-type hair called lanugo. The greasy white stuff keeps your baby from looking like a shriveled prune even though they’re floating around in amniotic fluid. Think of it as a natural anti-wrinkle cream to avoid the nine-months-of-soaking-in-a-bath look. Generally it’ll be gone before baby is born, but some babies still wear their protective coating during delivery so you might get a chance at seeing the vernix.
That’s not all that baby is up to though. The senses continue to form, as baby is working diligently at developing sight, hearing, taste, and touch. If you’re having a girl, you may be amazed to know that she already has a whopping 6 million eggs inside of her ovaries! Also continuing to grow is the hair on baby’s head. Thickness, color, and length are all determined by genetics, but your little one is growing what it can. Whether it’s an entire moptop or barely there, baby’s hair is starting to grow.
You may be hoping from the stress on your body to be resolved when you lay down to relax, but you’re likely in for a surprise. Leg cramps are common around this time and may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. They can occur during the day too, but they’ll be more prevalent as you’re winding down from a hard day’s work. No one is sure what exactly causes them, but the most common theories are muscle fatigue, constricted and compressed blood vessels, and diet. Whatever the cause, your best remedy is to straighten your leg and gently bend your toes towards your shins to flex the ankles a few times. Gradient compression legwear can help relieve the stress your legs are suffering through.
Speaking of legs, you will likely start feeling baby’s kicks around this time. If you haven’t yet, don’t fret – the direction and force of the kick plus your own body play major contributing factors into the impact of those kicks. It may even feel like nothing more than gas bubbles, but in fact could be your little one practicing those neurological triggers and pumping those legs.
Baby’s continued growth means you’re growing too, and growing pains may come with it. This is common and is likely round ligament pain, caused from stretching to accommodate your growing uterus. You may notice some changes in your skin too, such as reddened palms caused by increased estrogen or darkened patches called chloasma. Chloasma is also known as the “mask of pregnancy” and forms on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lips. Darkening can also appear in other areas, including freckles, scars, underarms, nipples, inner thighs, and your vulva. Don’t panic just yet, because this darkening typically goes away shortly after delivery. In the meantime, you can use a little concealer and cover up with a brimmed head and good quality sunscreen.
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