Before She Is Born – Fetal Development
by Sue Cirba & Anthony Pamelia
© Life Issues Institute

Seeing live images of the child in her womb can offer an expectant mother the opportunity to begin a lifelong relationship of love with her child before she is born. Unfortunately, at an abortion clinic, a woman does not usually get the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her developing child.

How does baby develop in the womb?

Day 1 – A new human life begins when the sperm, containing 23 chromosomes from the father, unites with the ovum, containing 23 chromosomes from the mother. One sperm penetrates the ovum. Changes take place to prevent other sperm from entering. Once fertilized, the ovum is called a zygote and contains all the genetic material that determines the physical characteristics of this unique human being.

Day 3-4 – The zygote divides rapidly into many cells. When it passes through the fallopian tube into the uterus it is now called a blastocyst.

Day 5-9 – During the blastocyst stage of development, the new human being bounces around the uterus until it attaches to the uterine wall. The placenta begins to form.

Day 20 – The embryo’s primitive brain, spinal cord and nervous system are present and growing.

Day 21 – The heart begins to beat.

Day 30 (4 Weeks) – The embryo is 1/4 inch long and is 10,000 times larger than at fertilization. Arm and leg buds are present. The mother’s blood and the baby’s blood are kept separate by the placenta and can be of different blood types. The placenta allows nourishment and oxygen to be transferred to the embryo and her waste products removed. The front of the neural tube is enlarged into three parts that will soon become the five parts of her brain.

Day 35 – Five fingers can be seen on the embryo’s hand.

Day 40 – Brain waves can be detected and recorded. During week six the brain begins to control the movement of her muscles and organs.

Day 42 – (6 weeks) Cells are multiplying and forming the eyes, ears, jaws, lungs, stomach, intestines and liver.

Day 49 – She has three initial sections of intestine and a relatively large liver which begins to form blood cells. The unborn child’s nose, mouth, toes and fingers are taking shape. A network of arteries and veins, and the circulation system for her brain have formed.

8 weeks – All organs are present that are found in an adult. Kidneys function, the stomach produces digestive juices, the heart has been beating for a month now, brain waves were detected more than two weeks ago. Specialized nerve endings involved in pain transmission are present. At eight weeks the unborn child is called a fetus which is Latin for “young one”.

10 weeks – The fetus is 2 and 1/2 inches from head to rump. She can squint and swallow. Fingerprints are evident in the skin and fingernails are visible.

12 weeks – Her eyelids are sealed to protect the eyes, twenty buds are present for baby teeth. External genitals have developed and the sex of the child can be determined.

14 weeks – The fetus can suck her thumb. Her skin appears transparent. Her heart is well formed, beating 140 beats per minute.

18 weeks – The unborn child is about 6 and 1/2 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 12 ounces. She curls up in self-protection whenever her mother moves. She reacts to noise. She uses her hands to touch her surroundings and can grab and pull the umbilical cord. Although the fetus has been moving for weeks, she is now strong enough that mom can feel her kick.

20 weeks – “Selected Pennsylvania hospitals report that 0 to 10 % of babies treated in the neonatal intensive care units of those hospitals survived for at least 28 days or to the day when they were discharged.” from Abortion Making A Decision – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

22 weeks – Hair can be seen on the head and body as well as eyebrows and eyelashes. The lungs continue to develop. Some babies at this stage can survive outside the womb. “Selected Pennsylvania hospitals report that for babies born at this time and treated in neonatal intensive care units of those hospitals, up to 66% survived for at least 28 days or to the day when they were discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit.” According to The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania guide mentioned above.

From this point on the unborn child grows longer and heavier. As her lungs mature, her chances of survival if born prematurely continue to improve.

By 32 weeks from fertilization (34 weeks menstrual) about 99% of babies born survive based on national statistics.

*Photographs of these developmental stages can be viewed here.

**This description of life in the womb is based the photography of Lennart Nilsson from A Child is Born, Dell Publishing company, and “The First Nine Months” produced by Focus on the Family, and “Abortion: Making a Decision ” produced by The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under Governor Robert Casey., and Allan S. Noonan, M.D., M.P.H. Secretary of Health.