Development Stages Of A Baby From Conception To Birth

Information for the expectant mother on the development of a baby from conception to birth, including the first time a baby's heart beats.

An average full term pregnancy consists of a nine month gestation period - approximately 280 days. The first three months are called the First Trimester. During the First Trimester, the baby develops all of its internal organs, the sense organs and the arms and legs. The Second Trimester is the fourth through the sixth months; the baby continues to develop during this time. The Third Trimester is the seventh month until birth; the baby finishes developing and gains the bulk of what will be the birth weight during this time.

Immediately upon conception, cellular development begins. These cells become implanted in the uterine walls of the mother around five to nine days after fertilization. At approximately fourteen days, the expectant mother will miss her first period. At around twenty-four days and up until the end of the Trimester, the baby will begin to develop a heartbeat, a nervous system, a skeletal system, muscles and blood will begin to flow through its vascular system. Also, the eyes, ears, nose, fingernails, eyelids (although they are fused shut) and limbs will start to develop. The baby will start moving around in the twelfth week, but the expectant mother will not be able to feel it yet. The baby inhales amniotic fluid and can suck its thumb now also. At the end of the First Trimester the baby is technically no longer an embryo, but is now called a fetus.

In the fourth month of the Second Trimester, the baby will have developed a strong heartbeat. The expectant mother should now be having physical signs of her pregnancy. Because the baby has a developed digestive system it will become more active because of the food, water and oxygen it is now receiving. This month the eyebrows and the genital organs have also developed (although the sex of the baby was determined at conception).

In the fifth month of the Second Trimester, the baby's eyelids are still fused shut. The internal organs - with the exception of the lungs - are maturing rapidly. The baby will have grown enough now that when it moves the mother may be able to feel it. The baby now has a pattern of waking and sleeping, it can cry, hiccup and starts to do uterine acrobatics (that's what it feels like anyway).

In the sixth month of the Second Trimester, the baby starts accumulating fat and weighs approximately 1 to 1 1/2 pounds now. The expectant mother will surely feel movement if she hasn't already and she may feel the baby hiccuping also. The baby can open its eyes and month and their little eyelashes are visible. The baby's bones start to harden, technically referred to as ossification. At the end of the sixth month, the baby's lungs are still not mature enough for the baby to be born.

In the Third Trimester (the seventh, eighth and ninth months) the baby's chances of survival get better every day as the lungs continue to mature. The baby's length doubles and the baby gains approximately six pounds in the final months before birth.

The birth process is next; if the mother has a normal vaginal delivery, there are three stages of birth. In the first stage, the uterus starts to contract sporadically and then gradually it becomes a rhythmic pattern. In the second stage the mother pushes the baby out through the birth canal and in the final stage the placenta is removed. If a Cesarean delivery is necessary, the baby is delivered through a surgical incision made through the abdominal wall and then through the uterus. The baby is then pulled out and the mother's abdomen is stitched up to begin the healing process.

This is the order in which a new life progresses from conception to birth. Now the parents can bond with their newborn baby and take great joy in watching the baby grow and learn.

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