From conception to the 10th week of your pregnancy, your baby is an embryo, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website. She becomes a fetus at the end of week 10 of your pregnancy. During the embryonic period, when your baby is experiencing rapid growth and cellular development, she is at increased risk of interference from external threats to his health and development. Once your baby enters the fetal period, fetal behavior can signal health, although doctors usually perform routine tests and examinations to evaluate the health of your baby.
Around five months into your pregnancy, your baby will begin to move. The first fetal movement is called quickening, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A 6- month fetus reacts to sounds with movement; jerky motions made by your baby may signal that he has hiccups. Around the seventh month, the fetus can respond to stimuli such as pain, sound, and light. You baby changes position often and by the eighth month, he is kicking more often. A 9-month fetus moves less since he less space. Your doctor might ask you to keep track of how much fetal movement you experience by performing a kick count and reporting any changes.
Normal Growth and Development
Your doctor might run a few routine tests to gauge fetal development. An ultrasound exam helps your doctor to see your baby and evaluate his growth. According to the University of Maryland Medical website, a healthy 5-month fetus is about 10-inches long. At 2-inch increases each month, your fetus is about 14-inches long by the seventh month. Between weeks 29 and 20, or the third trimester, a healthy fetus grows about one-half pound each week. By the ninth month of pregnancy, your healthy fetus weighs about 7 pounds and has grown to 18 to 20-inches long.
Electronic fetal monitoring is used to monitor the heartbeat of a fetus late in pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The nonstress test and the contraction stress test allow your doctor to look for potential problems and confirm the health of your baby’s heart. Fetal heartbeat monitoring is also performed during labor to make sure the fetus maintains a healthy and varying heart rate between 110 and 160 beats per minute.
While your baby moves less in the ninth month, she does change position to get ready for birth. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the fetus drops into your pelvis and her head is pointing toward the birth canal.