Click on the weeks below to read about the baby’s development. For more information, download our Pregnancy Booklets, Part 1 and Part 2.
The baby’s life begins when a sperm fertilizes an egg. Within half an hour, the fertilized egg begins dividing at a furious rate while traveling down the Fallopian tube to the uterus. In the uterus, the developing embryo implants beneath the surface of the uterus, it is only one-sixth of an inch long, but is rapidly developing.
The embryo produces hormones which stop the mother’s menstrual cycle.
At three weeks, the tiny heart begins to beat.
The baby is now about 1/17 of an inch long. The neural tube enlarges, as it will soon become a very complex brain. The placenta begins functioning, umbilical cord develops and the eyes and ears begin to form, as well as an opening for the mouth. The heart has begun to pump blood. Buds form on the body that will become the arms and legs.
The baby is about 1/3 of an inch. The brain is growing and facial features are visible, including a mouth and tongue. The eyes have a retina and lens. The major muscle system is developed, and the unborn child practices moving. Part of the nervous system that deals with equilibrium and spatial relations also begins to develop. That means that whenever the mother moves, the baby can feel the change in spatial orientation and will try to change her position accordingly in order to re-stabilize herself.
Development between the third and eighth week is highly important. The outlines of all internal and external structures are developed. During the second month, the mother’s total volume of blood increases to accommodate the growing fetus.
The fingers and thumb appear, but are short and webbed.
Most of the joints are formed; ears, ankles and wrists. At the end of the second month the fetus is a little over 1 inch long and weighs less than an ounce.
The embryo is now called a fetus. The heart is beating more strongly, he/she can turn her head, open her mouth, and swallow amniotic fluid. The fingers and toes of the fetus have soft nails.
Nearly all of the organs of the fetus are formed. He/she continues to grow and develop until delivery. Vocal chords are complete, and the child can cry (silently). The brain is fully formed, and he/she is able to feel pain. The fetus may even suck it’s thumb. The eyelids now cover the eyes, and will remain shut until the seventh month to protect the delicate optical nerve fibers.
The face looks more and more human each day as the eyes begin to move closer together. It is now possible to determine the baby’s sex by looking at the genitals. Hair is beginning to appear.
The baby can now experience sensations and is able to begin communicating with you. Your baby is intimately connected to you emotionally as well as physically. Not only are the substances you intake transmitted to your baby, but your emotions and feelings are transmitted to him/her as well. Therefore, it is very important to be happy, peaceful and serene. Your happiness and positive feelings can induce equally pleasant feelings in your child. By the end of the third month the fetus is 4 inches long and from now on, the organs will mature and the fetus will gain weight.
Muscles lengthen and become organized. The mother starts feeling the first flutters of the unborn child kicking and moving within. The skin is pink and transparent.
In the second trimester the head is developing more than the rest of the body: the eyes, mouth, nose, and ears are almost completely formed, creating a well-defined face. The fetus has an adult’s taste buds and may be able to savor.
The legs are now longer than the arms, and he/she is moving it’s arms and legs frequently.
The internal organs are maturing. The fetus sleeps and wakes at regular intervals.
The fetus is much more active turning from side to side and your baby can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.
Meconium, the baby’s first bowel movement, is accumulating within the bowel.
At the fifth month, something extraordinary occurs: he/she can actually begin to hear! The child can hear and recognize his/her mother’s voice.
The baby hears the sounds coming from your body, your voice, and the voices of other people who are speaking close by.
The sensory organs continue to development. The baby is able to react to sweet and sour tastes as well as bitter ones. She hears and learns and the ability to react to stimuli is present.
The body is becoming better proportioned each day, and the bones of the middle ear begin to harden.
Baby makes breathing movements with it’s chest muscles and sometimes amniotic fluid gets into the windpipe giving the fetus hiccups.
At six months, the unborn child is covered with a fine hair called lanugo and he/she is protected by a waxy substance called vernix caseosa.
The brain continues its rapid growth, and the lungs continue to grow.
The eyelids open, and the eyes are completely formed.
Fat continues to accumulate under the skin. The brain can control primitive breathing and body temperature, and the eyes can move in the sockets. The baby is becoming sensitive to light, sound, taste and smell.
By the 7th month, his/her key organs are developed: The nervous system has matured to the point that it controls respiratory functions and body temperature, the lungs are capable of breathing if he/she were to be born at this point. The baby’s movements are more organized, and his/her muscles are stronger. He/she exercises by kicking and stretching. Calcium is being stored and fetal bones are hardening. Now the baby weighs about 3 pounds and he/she is about 15 inches long.
The brain goes through a period of rapid development. The only major organ left to fully develop are the lungs.
The baby is up to four pounds now and all five senses are functional. The toenails are completely formed and the hair on the head continues to grow.
Fat continues to accumulate which turns the baby’s skin color from red to pink. During this month, he/she begins to show signs of personality and intentional behavior. Not only does he/she move to the rhythm of music, but also prefers some types of music to others. By the end of this month, the baby can see! It reacts to changes in lighting and can follow a flashing light.
The baby is developing immunities to fight mild infection. His/her skin is smooth, the legs and arms are chubby by the eight month. The nervous system is fully formed and ready to operate through a complex mass of neurons. The signals they emit turn into messages, ideas, decisions, memory. The baby’s movements are stronger now, he/she is about 18 inches long and weighs about 5 pounds.
The baby has gotten big enough to take up most of the uterus, and there’s less room to move around.
With four weeks to go, our baby is almost ready. He/she could drop into the birth canal at any time now. This week, the fat is dimpling on the elbows and knees as well as forming creases in the neck and wrists. The baby’s gums are very rigid.
Average size is around 6.5 pounds now! The baby practices breathing movements preparing for life outside the womb. His/her grasp becomes firm, and he/she will turn toward light.
The circumference of the head and the baby’s abdomen are about the same size. The bones of the baby’s head are soft and flexible for delivery. He/she will continue growing and developing until birth. The fetus is gaining about half pound per week.
The lungs are maturing and surfactant production is increasing. The baby can’t move too much anymore, and the average size is over seven pounds.
The baby is ready for life outside its mother’s womb. Toward the end of the ninth month, when the baby drops into a lower position, the mother can breathe easier and may have an increased need to urinate. Your baby, now approximately seven and a half pounds, is ready to be born.
Aim for better health for all your life stages. Call Carteret Ob-Gyn Associates at 252.247.4297 today to schedule your appointment. We look forward to caring for you! For your convenience, you can also fill out our online Request an Appointment form.