Having a baby and feeling a new life developing inside you is an amazing, life-changing experience for pregnant women, even though they may not always feel their best along the way. Below you will gain knowledge in the understanding of the development of a foetus.
Pregnancy can be different from woman to woman, and even for the same mother from one pregnancy to the next. Some pregnancy symptoms last for several weeks or months, while other discomforts are temporary or don’t affect every woman who is expecting.
A normal pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks, counting from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, which is typically about two weeks before conception occurs.
The stages of pregnancy are typically described in three-month periods known as trimesters. Each trimester lasts between 12 and 13 weeks.
During each trimester, distinct changes take place in a pregnant woman’s body as well as in the development of the foetus.
Conception and implantation
About two weeks after a woman has her period, she ovulates and her ovaries release one mature egg. The egg can be fertilized for 12 to 24 hours after it’s released as it travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus.
If an egg meets up with a sperm cell that has made its way into the fallopian tube, it combines into one cell, a process that’s known as fertilization or conception.
At fertilization, the sex of the foetus is already determined.
First trimester development of embryo/foetus
A developing baby is called an embryo from the moment conception takes place until the eighth week of pregnancy.
During the first month the heart and lungs begin to develop, and the arms, legs, brain, spinal cord and nerves begin to form.
The embryo will be about the size of a pea around one month into a pregnancy. Around the second month of pregnancy, the embryo has grown to the size of a kidney bean, he explained. In addition, the ankles, wrists, fingers and eyelids form, bones appear, and the genitals and inner ear begin to develop.
After the eighth week of pregnancy and until birth occurs, a developing baby is called a foetus.
Second trimester development of the foetus
The foetus is growing a lot and will be between 3 and 5 inches long.
By the fourth month of pregnancy, eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails and the neck all form, and the skin has a wrinkled appearance. Some other highlights this month include that the arms and legs can bend, the kidneys start working and can produce urine, and the foetus can swallow and hear.
In the fifth month of pregnancy, the foetus is more active and a woman may be able to feel its movements..
By the sixth month of pregnancy, hair begins to grow, the eyes begin to open and the brain is rapidly developing. Although the lungs are completely formed, they don’t yet function.
Third trimester development of the foetus
The foetus kicks and stretches, and can even respond to light and sound.
During the eighth month of pregnancy, the foetus gains weight very quickly. Bones harden, but the skull remains soft and flexible to make delivery easier.
The ninth month is the home stretch of pregnancy and the foetus is getting ready for birth by turning into a head-down position in a woman’s pelvis.
The new definition of a full-term pregnancy is when a baby is born after 39 to 40 weeks reverting from prior conception of 37 weeks.