Am I Pregnant?
What is happening to my baby?
The journey of life is an incredible process, and the beginning of that journey is quite possibly the most amazing part! Read on to learn about life before birth.
Conception: Life beings!
Life begins at conception as a single, separate living cell. Nothing new is added except oxygen and nutrition. Fertilization occurs when a sperm and ovum join to form a single cell, full of life and bearing the unique genetic imprint of a person who has never existed before. The DNA in the 46 chromosomes of that small cell contains full instructions about that new individual’s sex, eye color, foot size, brain capacity, and other physical traits.
1 Week: Implantation
On about the sixth day, the growing baby attaches to the wall of the mother’s uterus. That rich nutrient lining welcomes the tiny tenant, and soon the child is sending out the chemical signal that can be detected in a home pregnancy test. Before the second week is over, the cells of the child’s body will have already begun segregating themselves into the various layers that will give rise to the brain, nervous system, digestive system, muscles, bones and circulatory system.
3-4 Weeks: A Beating Heart
The baby’s heart begins its first beats as early as 18 days after fertilization, often before the mother even suspects she is pregnant. Between the third and fourth weeks, the baby’s head and spinal column become easily distinguishable, and arm buds appear. Legs will begin to appear days later. The umbilical cord forms, transporting oxygen and nutrients to the child.
6 Weeks: Brain Waves
Fingers are forming, and the child’s mouth and lips are apparent. The child begins his or her first movements. At six weeks, the baby has brain waves that can be measured with an electroencephalogram.
10-11 Weeks: Organ Systems in Place
The baby has eyelids, fingernails and fingerprints, and can grasp an object. The kidneys begin to form urine. All body systems are in place and active; the baby has a skeletal structure, nerves and circulation.
12 Weeks: Movements and Characteristics
Though too small to be felt by the mother, the baby reaches peak frequency of movement during the third month. The baby’s sex can be visually determined, and the child’s eyes, ears and face begin to display distinctive characteristics.
14 Weeks: A Miracle of Development
Eyebrows have formed, eye movements are seen. For a couple of weeks now, the baby has had all the body parts required to experience pain, including the nerves and spinal cord.
15 Weeks: Making His or Her Presence Known
The baby becomes large and active enough for the mother to feel movement of turns, kicks and somersaults that at some point even become visible on the outside.
20 Weeks: Hearing Mother’s Voice
In the fifth and sixth months, the baby responds to music, sudden noises and voices, especially that of his or her mother. Over the coming weeks, the baby will increase seven times in weight and nearly double in height.
23 Weeks (or earlier): Viability
Viability is the time when the baby can survive outside the mother. Not long ago, viability was at 30 weeks, then 25. Today, babies at 22 or 23 weeks have been saved, and even some younger babies have survived. What will viability be tomorrow?
The information on this page was adapted from “Life Before Birth” published by Good News Publishers, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187.