A 30-week fetus is only ten short weeks away from his due date, and development is proceeding at a ferocious pace. At this point, the baby has completed most of the development of major organs and is concentrating his efforts on growing larger, stronger and putting on the fat that will sustain him after birth.
At 30 weeks, a developing baby is approximately 15 1/2 to 17 inches long and weighs about 3 pounds. The baby is cushioned by up to 1 1/2 pints of amniotic fluid, almost the peak amount since soon the baby will be taking up more space inside the uterus and limiting the amount of amniotic fluid that can fit in there with her.
The fine hair, called lanugo, that has covered the baby for the last 14 to 15 weeks will start to fall off at 30 weeks. This shedding is a slow process and will continue until birth. Some babies are born with a little lanugo still visible. The unborn baby has a full set of perfectly formed tiny fingernails and toenails at 30 weeks and is plumping up as he puts on more and more fat under his thin layer of skin. His head is growing larger to make room for his growing brain.
The brain, which is growing at a rapid pace, has begun to develop the characteristic wrinkles and folds of the human brain instead of being completely smooth. The 30-week old fetus is also beginning to develop the capability of regulating her own body temperature. The bone marrow is now producing red blood cells of its own rather than relying on cells from the mother, and the outer portion of the baby's bones are hardening.
A fetus at 30 weeks gestation has begun to make out the difference between light and dark and now is capable of opening and closing his eyes. He will turn his head toward a bright light, such as a flashlight aimed at the mother's belly. His hearing is also fairly developed by this point, and he can recognize the sound of his mother's voice when she talks or sings to him.
At 30 weeks gestation, a fetus has developed a clear sleep and wake cycle that might be evident to his mother in the form of time periods of movement or stillness. The mother also can likely feel kicks, jabs and pushes at this point, since a 30-week-old fetus is highly active during her frequent awake times. More than ten movements every two hours is typical. Other behaviors baby is now capable of include hiccuping, practicing breathing, blinking, swallowing and coughing.