The growth of a baby in utero takes on average 280 days from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP). Although pregnancy takes less than a year in a mother’s life, amazing changes take place for the baby in that time frame.
Thanks to modern technology, we know lots more about what’s happening inside mom at each stage of baby’s development. Curious? Here is a glimpse into fetal development. Note – gestational age counts from the LMP date and assumes fertilization occurred two weeks later, when a woman is most likely to ovulate.
When the sperm fertilizes an egg, a unique individual comes into being. Already, traits like hair, eye color and personality are established.
The embryo is about the size of the tip of a pin but already contains specialized cells that will become brain, spinal cord and heart systems.
The heart begins to pump blood. This first glimpse of the heartbeat can be easily seen in a standard ultrasound scan.
Now the size of a penny, the embryo has fingers and toes. The beginnings of other key systems, from the spine to the eyes to the stomach, begin now.
The baby, now called a fetus, is the size of a small strawberry. Muscles and bones are forming and features such as eyes, limbs and joints may be seen in ultrasound images.
New developments include the start of teeth “buds”, eyelids and nose. An ultrasound may tell mom if she is carrying a boy or girl!
Arms and legs have developed and skin is formed and turning pink. Ears function at this gestational age. Play some music and see how your baby reacts to your favorite tunes!
Hair is sprouting and lungs are developing, although baby will not be able to breath on its own just yet. Mothers typically feel baby moving by this stage, halfway through the pregnancy.
Check out this 3D ultrasound of this sweet baby at 20 weeks gestation:
Fetus is as long as an ear of corn and weighs 1.25 pounds. Eyebrows and lashes are visible and baby also starts sleep patterns. Babies born at this stage may survive with medical intervention.
At this stage of fetal development, the baby is now the size of a small coconut! Eyes are partially open at this stage and body movements are stronger.
Wrinkles can be seen on the bottom of baby’s feet, and he or she is often positioned head down in the womb (the best position for a natural delivery). Although still early, most babies born at this stage survive.
Average size by now is 5.5 pounds and 12.5 inches. In another week, baby will be considered full-term although labor may take up to week 40 to begin.
Pregnancy was traditionally described as 9 months, divided into three, 3-month trimesters. In more modern times, doctors tell pregnant mothers to expect 40 weeks of pregnancy (closer to 10 months) and development is typically divided into trimesters by weeks: first trimester (weeks 1 to 12), second (weeks 13-27) and third (week 28 to birth).
No matter where you are in your pregnancy, we’d be happy to see you to talk about any concerns, help you gather support and materials and then celebrate with you the arrival of your baby. Let us know how we can offer help and hope to you during your pregnancy!
*Sources : b4youdecide.org and Pennsylvania Department of Health (Abortion: Making a Decision)