Development Through Life Stages

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Conception

Life begins with conception. A woman normally produces one egg cell each month, roughly two weeks after the last menstrual period. This egg can then be fertilized if sexual intercourse takes place while the egg is in the fallopian tube. Fertilization means that the genetic material in the sperm joins with the genetic material in the egg to start new life.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth when a woman carries a developing foetus in her uterus.

Pregnancy begins when a sperm penetrates an egg. One to one and a half days later, the single fertilized cell begins to divide, after two or three days there are enough cells to make the fertilised egg the size of a pin head. The collection of cells travels to the lining of the uterus where it becomes implanted. At this stage the collection of cells is called an 'embryo'. After eight weeks, the embryo may have grown to between three and four centimetres, has a recognizable heart bear ad the beginnings of eyes, ears, a mouth, legs and arms. At this stage the growing organism is called a 'foetus'. During the final seven months before birth, all the organs continue to develop. By twenty weeks, the foetus will have reached about the half the length of the baby at birth, by thirty two weeks, the foetus will be about half its birth weight.

Birth and Infancy

Usually about nine months after conception the baby will be born. The new born babe has to take easily digestible food such as mother's milk in the first weeks in order to grow. A new born baby does not have a fully developed brain but can usually hear sounds, tell differences in the way things taste, identify the smell of their own mother or carer. Infants are born with various temporary and primitive reflexes such as: turning their head towards any touch on the cheek. This helps the baby get the nipple into their mouth to feed, if you place your finger in the palm of the baby's hand, they will grasp your finger tightly,...
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