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Fetal Development

By | July 2010
Page 1 of 5
The Process of Fetal Development

What should one expect during pregnancy? Many women are overwhelmed by the idea of pregnancy because most of their knowledge pertains around that, as Sullivan puts it, the period of development in the uterus lasts about nine months in most cases. However, “For a baby to develop, a sperm (sex cells from the father) must unite with an egg (sex cell from the mother)”, says Sullivan. Sullivan also states, “The union of a sperm and an egg is called fertilization” (1). According to MedlinePlus:

A single sperm penetrates the mother’s egg cell, and the resulting cell is called a

zygote. The zygote contains all the genetic information (DNA) necessary to
become a child. Half of the genetic information comes from the mother’s egg and
half from the father’s sperm. The zygote spends the next few days traveling down
the fallopian tube and divides to form a ball of cells. (1) Pregnancy can be frightening for some, but understanding the changes to the mother’s body and the fetus that occur during the first, second, and third trimesters can help prepare and reassure the mother.

The first trimester of pregnancy is somewhat like a stepping stone for that it provides the beginnings of most body system formation. This trimester last only fourteen weeks. In the first weeks of pregnancy the gender is determined and the formation of the heart and circulatory system begins (“First Trimester” 1). By the fifth week the first heart beats will begin and the umbilical cord will start to develop along with most organs. Also in the fifth week, the blood is pumping, The four chambers of the heart are functioning, and the lungs, brain, arm buds, and leg buds appear. In the sixth week the brain will become more complex and the lenses of the eyes and the pancreas will begin their development. Along this same time the nose shifts into place and will form nostrils while the intestines start to grow. During the seventh week elbows will...

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