Pregnancy is exciting, but it is also a time of waiting. The events of pregnancy progress at their own pace and in their own time. No one can rush the process. In the beginning, cells simply divide. By the end of 3 months, organs have developed. During the last 6 months of pregnancy organ systems continue to refine themselves, but specialization of cells and growth in size become the main thrust of the process underway. At the end of nine months the incredible events are complete. A child is born.
How Pregnancy Progresses
The fertilized egg multiplies into many cells. Some cells develop into the embryo and some cells develop into the placenta. About 8 days after fertilization the embryo will attach to the uterine lining.
The embryo is only 1/8 inch long by the end of this first month, but has already begun to develop the early stages of a heart, liver and digestive system. Tiny buds form which will later develop into arms and legs.
All of the major organs are forming. The embryo’s heart is pumping blood. The head is relatively large compared to the rest of the body and brain development is well underway. The eyes are distinctly visible. The hands and feet look like little scalloped paddles at this early stage.
By the end of the second month the embryo is a little over an inch long.
The embryo is now called a fetus. Kidneys are producing urine which the fetus excretes into the amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is cleansed via the umbilical cord then out through the mother.
Bone is replacing cartilage, and muscles are developing. Fingers, toes and eyelids have formed. Testicles have formed in boys and ovaries in girls.
By the end of the third month the fetus is about 2 1/2 – 3 inches long and weighs about 1/2 ounce.
All organs have developed. The fetus just needs time to grow and mature. Beneath the gums, teeth are forming. Fine hair begins to grow all over the body. Fingernails form. The baby sucks and swallows.
The baby actively kicks its legs and moves its arms, but not with enough strength for the mother to be able to feel the movement.
By the end of the fourth month the baby is 5-6 inches long and weighs 3-4 ounces. The uterus is now about four inches in diameter and the mothers tummy may show a slight bulge.
The baby has been busy growing and is now big enough for the mother to feel her fetus moving about inside of her. A thumb may find its way to the baby’s mouth for sucking. Hair is growing on the head.
The baby can hear muffled sounds. A protective fatty substance called vernix covers the baby’s skin.
By the end of the fifth month the baby is 8-10 inches long and weighs 8-12 ounces. Still under one pound!
Finger prints are visible. The eyelids will part for the first time this month and the eyes will open. The lungs begin to mature, getting ready for a healthy first breath.
Bones are hardening as calcium deposits. The baby’s movements become more vigorous. Until now, no body fat has accumulated, that occurs mostly in the third trimester.
The baby has reached a length of nearly 11-12 inches and weighs about 1 1/2 pounds.
The brain is enlarging. Body fat is accumulating. There is less room for the baby to move around now. Taste buds are forming and the baby’s senses are becoming more acute. The baby hears the voices of those nearby.
By the end of the seventh month the baby could have a good chance of survival if born prematurely, but would require intensive medical care.
The length has reached about 13-15 inches, and the baby now weighs close to 2 1/2 to 3 pounds.
The lungs are maturing further. Continued rapid growth is occurring. Kicks may be visible by watching the mothers abdomen move. The baby occasionally gets the hiccups.
If delivered prematurely, the baby has an excellent chance of survival.
The baby is about 16-18 inches long now and weighs 4-5 pounds.
The baby deposits body fat at a rate of nearly 1/2 ounce per day. The lungs are mature. In these tight quarters the baby may seem a little less active.
The normal position for the baby to be in as it prepares for birth is head down and facing the mothers back. The head engages in mother’s pelvis. Mother carries the baby lower, making it easier for the mother to breath.
At birth the average baby weighs 7-1/2 pounds, but weight can vary between 6 to 9 pounds. Average length is 17 to 22 inches.