With each passing week, your baby is looking less like a sea creature and more like a baby. By week nine, his “tail” is almost completely gone. If you could see your baby, you would notice that his tiny legs now have distinctive knees and his arms distinctive elbows. His head still appears quite large, but he has a recognizable neck and is holding it up a little straighter. His body is not curled as tightly as it was even a week ago. By this week, the jaw is almost completely formed, adding shape to his developing face. Touch pads have formed on the ends of his tiny fingers.
Other important changes are going on internally. The intestines are now so long that they have moved outside the abdomen to a sac on the umbilical cord. (Pictures of fetuses at this age often show what looks like a bulging umbilical cord. The bulge is actually the intestines.) The intestines will move back into the abdominal cavity as soon as it grows large enough to hold them. An ultrasound would show your baby’s tiny limbs moving, and a Doppler test in your doctor’s office might now be able to pick up a heartbeat.
As these weekly developmental updates make clear, there is a miracle going on inside your body. You want to do all you can to nurture that miracle, which means beginning to think like a parent. It may seem early — after all, you are not even showing yet — but your actions now can influence your baby’s health and welfare for years to come. One invaluable gift to your baby, for example, is to avoid smoking or drinking. Smoking has been linked to miscarriage and premature birth, and alcohol during pregnancy can cause mental retardation in your child.
If you’ve had a drink or two before you realized you were pregnant, your baby is probably fine. But now that you know, it’s wise to stop completely — according to federal health agencies, no amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy. Also, check with your doctor before taking any herbs, supplements, or medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
By making these changes, you’ll help ensure that your baby has a healthy start in life.
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow! St. Martin’s Press.
Supple, William F. Jr., Ph.D. Becoming A Baby: How Your Baby Grows From Day-to-Day. Picket Fence Publishing.
Pregnancy Calendar, Week 9, from the American Academy of Family Physicians
Curtis, Glade and Judith Schuler. Your Pregnancy Week by Week. Da Capo Press, 5th edition.
Shanahan, M. Kelly. Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide. Prima Publishing.