Child Development –Growth before birth

Pre-natal Development (The forty - week Miracle)

The term prenatal refers to the period before birth. It is a very special time. During this 40 week (or nine - months) period, a single cell develops into a human being capable of independent existence. Prenatal development beings at conception. It continues through three stages: the period of the ovum, the period of the embryo, baby develops.


Once each month, a female cell or egg called an ovum - is released by the ovary of a woman. The egg moves through the fallopian tube to the uterus, or womb. This journey requires about two or three days. It is only in the fallopian tube that by a sperm, or male cell, conception takes place. When the egg reaches the uterus, it usually disintegrates and is flushed away with the menstrual in the fallopian tube by a sperm, or male cell, conception takes place. This is the beginning of pregnancy.

Period of the Ovum

The first stage in the life of a human baby is called the period of the ovum. It lasts approximately two weeks. When the fertilized egg reaches the uterus, it attaches itself to the thickened lining of the uterus and begins to grow. Since the lining is needs to nourish the fertilized egg, it cannot be shed in menstruation as usual. Therefore, menstruation does not take place. The woman's menstrual periods stop and will not begin again until after the baby is born.

The fertilized egg has found a soft, warm bed and food in the thickened lining of the uterus. It grows by a process called cell division. This single, complete cell divides and becomes two; two become four, and so on until there is a mass of cells. Each cell is programmed to become a particular type. Some will help form skin or bones. Others will become brain or blood cells. In spite of the remarkable growth in this two - week period, the tiny ovum is still only the size of a pinhead.

Period of the Embryo

The increasing cluster of cells is called the embryo. The second stage of development - the period of the embryo lasts about six weeks. The embryo is growing rapidly. It becomes firmly attached to the inner lining of the uterus. By the end stage, the connecting tissue between the embryo and the uterus has developed into the Placenta. Nourishment and oxygen from the mother's bloodstream are carried from the placenta to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. Many mothers worry that during their pregnancy, the baby may become tangled up in the umbilical cord and strangle. This is very unlikely. The cord is, filled with blood. It is as stiff and firm as a garden hose filled with water. It is not flexible enough to loop around the fetus. Only after baby is born does the cord become limp and ropelike.

The growing embryo is soon surrounded by a bag of liquid called amniotic fluid. This acts as a cushion to protect it, even through minor bumps or falls of the mother. The baby remains within this sac of liquid until just before birth.

Period of the fetus

The third and last stage of pregnancy is called the fetal period, it beings about the seventh or eighth week of pregnancy, and lasts until birth. The new life is now known as the fetus rather than the embryo. The unborn baby is now more recognizable. Arms, legs, and even fingers and toes have developed. Facial features are also forming. All of the internal organs are present, but not all are ready to function yet. They continue to develop in the remaining months. Somewhere between the fourth and fifth months, the fetus's movements and kicks touch the wall of the uterus. These fluttering movements will be faint and infrequent at first. Gradually, they become stronger and occur more often. This feeling life, sometimes called "quickening" tells the mother that she does, indeed, carry a live child within her. Actually, the baby has been very active long before this. The doctor will want to know when the expectant mother first felt life. These help the doctor estimate the baby's fetal age and establish a more accurate birth date. When life is felt, the fetus's heartbeat can also be heard. As the growing fetus fills more and more of the space in the uterus, the surrounding fluid fills only the pockets around the baby's body. With less space to stretch out, the baby curls up. This is called the fetal position.

By the seventh month, the most rapid fetal development has already taken place. Now the fetus's main job is get ready for birth. In these last months, the major organs become ready to sustain life outside the womb. The fetus also gains weight rapidly. Fat deposits are added under the skin. These will help the baby maintain body heat after birth. Gradually, the fetus, which had been thin, wrinkled, and old - looking, takes on the smoother, rounder appearance of a baby. The fetus is also storing nutrients and building immunity to diseases and infections. The unborn baby can do a surprising number of things for one so tiny. It can suck its thumb, cough sneeze, yawn, and suffer hiccups. A baby can cry before birth. Usually the crying is soundless. In one case, however, a doctor injected an air bubble into the uterus for medical purposes. The bubble happened to cover the baby's face. The moment the fetus had air to inhale and exhale, the sound of a protesting wail could clearly be heard. One day during the ninth the baby's weight seems to shift unexpectedly. Somehow the mother feels much more comfortable. "Lightening" has occurred. This means the baby has dropped into the lower pelvis. Birth is not far off. If this is not a first baby, lightening may not occur until just before labor begins. Sometimes lightening is accompanied by slight abdominal pains which first - time mothers may mistake for the beginning of labor.

By now the baby is probably upside down with the head nestled in the pelvis. This is the most comfortable position for the baby. It is also the easiest and safest position for birth. The baby is less active now because it fills most of the available space. The skin of the mother's abdomen appears stretched to capacity. The abdominal muscles are too. Nature has miraculously provided for this the muscles of the uterus and abdomen are capable of being increased up to sixty times their original size during pregnancy, yet they will return to nearly their original size within a month or so after the birth. The nine months of pregnancy are over the baby is ready to be born.

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