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Fetal Development: 5 Months

5 Months (18-22 weeks)


Your baby is now 7-9 inches long, almost half of her birth length; she weighs almost 1 pound. A white, greasy protective coating called vernix caseosa has just begun to form on your baby's skin. If you were to take a peak at her now, you would see her looking pink, translucent, and quite wrinkled. She may have some head hair and eyebrows by now. She can make facial expressions, frowning and grimacing expressively. Her ears are well developed and she can hear your voice and your heartbeat. She has regular sleep and wakeful periods as she develops her daily patterns. If your baby is a boy, his testicles have started to descend into the scrotum. If you are having a girl, her uterus is fully formed and she has six million eggs in her ovaries, which is six times the number she will have at birth. She is beginning to develop a vagina. A pregnancy ultrasound can now determine your baby’s sex.

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You’re halfway there mom! Let the honeymoon period begin. As you gain your energy back, you may want to get started on the nursery. Just remember to leave the painting to your husband or partner. Paint fumes are bad for you and your baby. Your uterus will hit your belly button at about 20 weeks and you may begin to feel achy and itchy around your lower and sides of the abdomen. This is due to stretching ligaments. Click here to find out how to manage stretch marks.

At this month’s checkup, your doctor may be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a special stethoscope, and most assuredly with the Doppler. Common physical symptoms this month include constipation, heartburn, indigestion, bloating, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, hearty appetite, leg cramps, mild swelling, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, faster pulse, easier or more difficult orgasm, backache, skin color changes, protruding naval, fewer mood swings, and forgetfulness.

Is your back aching yet? Be sure to practice good posture. This will help you with breathlessness too. When you are picking things up, be aware of how you are doing it. Be sure to keep your back straight and bend your knees. Do not bend from the hips. Sleeping may also be the culprit. Try sleeping on your side with pillows. Also, when you are getting up from a sleeping position, try to roll yourself off the bed. Avoid twisting your back. Another option to relieve back pain is trying prenatal massage at your local day spa. That should provide some temporary relief for an aching back. Just be sure to avoid aromatherapy oils, as it is proven that some herbs may be dangerous to pregnant women. Ask your spa for a therapist licensed in prenatal massage.

What is that dark line that may appear below your belly button and down your abdomen? That was your linea alba, which was a light colored line that has always been there but invisible. Your hormones have turned it into a linea nigra, which is a dark line. Also, if you notice dark patches on your face (chloasma), this is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy. It will eventually fade after delivery. Other weird skin happenings that may occur include skin tags, red palms, and soft or brittle nails.


Fetal Development: By Month
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This should be used as a general guideline and is for general information and educational purposes only. Please remember that all pregnancies develop at different rates. If you have questions about your baby's development, please contact your doctor or midwife.

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