Fetal Development Third Trimester

Submitted by Nick on January 16, 2012

A full term pregnancy lasts for 40 long weeks. This term is divided into three trimesters. The first revolves around formation, the second deals with growth and the third and final trimester is centered on weight gain and development of the little baby.

At the onset of the third trimester of the fetal development stages, all the baby's organs are in place. The developing baby is approximately 15 inches in length and weighs close to two and a half pounds.


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Baby Development in the Womb

The unborn baby begins to resemble a miniature newborn. The brain develops rapidly and sends out and receives signals. The nervous system starts functioning and controlling body functions.

With fetal development, the baby can now open its eyes as the protective layer is shed. With continued progress, the baby starts breathing in amniotic fluid. As body fat starts building up, the skin begins to look less wrinkled. The fat acts as a temperature regulator after birth. By the 30th week, the baby's skin gets a pinkish hue. However, the protective layer called vernix continues to coat the baby so as to protect the skin from damage caused by constant immersion in amniotic fluid. By the 31st week, most babies have a head full of hair and weigh close to 5 pounds. In the 32nd week, the baby is completely formed and may have settled into position ready for birth, with its head cradled in the pelvis. With the increase in size, the baby fills the uterus and movements get restricted. The movements may not be as much as they used to be in the second trimester due to fetal development. Read more on fetal development week by week

In the last month of gestation, starting from the 35th week, the fine protective hair called lanugo begins to disappear. The fingernails have grown completely and cover the tips of the fingers. The baby's intestines contain a tar-like substance called meconium. This is a result of the consumption of amniotic fluid and is passed out as the baby's first poop. Babies born at this stage can survive but may need some medical assistance. Development continues outside the womb in suitable conditions. At the end of the 37th week, the baby is ready to take on the world. Most of the protective hair has disappeared and the baby is approximately 19 to 21 inches tall. The lungs mature last and become fully functional only after birth. A majority of deliveries take place between the 38th and 40 weeks either through normal means or by a C-section.

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