Many people believe that a girl or woman presenting herself for a first-trimester abortion is simply aborting “a bunch of cells”.
Nevertheless, medical and scientific technology and data has increased tremendously over the past few years – with ultrasound, photography and even surgery within the womb.
Thanks to these advances, you can see the reality of foetal development for yourself by watching the following videos.
How pregnancy begins
When fertilization occurs, the baby’s features, including sex, hair and eye color, have already been determined. Did you know that 21 days after conception, your baby’s heart begins to beat?
“After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being…[this] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion, it is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence….” ~ Dr Jerome LeJeune, Professor of Genetics at the University of Descartes, Paris, discoverer of the chromosome pattern of Down’s Syndrome, and Nobel Prize Winner
“In that fraction of a second when the chromosomes form pairs, the sex of the new child will be determined, hereditary characteristics received from each parent will be set, and a new life will have begun.” ~ Kaluger, G., and Kaluger, M., Human Development: The Span of Life, page 28-29, The C.V. Mosby Co.
“By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception” ~ Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic
The timeline below was developed from the medical textbook: Before We Are Born – by Moore and Persaud. Videos are from: The Endowment for Human Development –www.ehd.org
First 5 weeks (since conception – approximately the first 7 weeks since the women’s last period)
The egg and the sperm most often unite in the fallopian tube to form a single cell called a zygote. This tiny new cell, smaller than a grain of salt, contains all the genetic information for every detail of the newly created life – the hair and eye colour, the intricate fine lines of the fingerprint, the physical appearance, the gender, the height and the skin tone.
This new life is now called an embyro, and travels down the fallopian tube before arriving at the uterus. By day 8, the baby is around the size of the fullstop at the end of this sentence.
The heart, about the size of a poppy seed, is the first organ to function. The first signs of brain development are also evident and brain waves can be detected from about day 40.
By Week 4, the baby measures 1/8 of an inch long, quickly growing to 1/3 of an inch long the following week. The baby’s head takes up about one third of her or his body’s total volume.
The beating heart can be seen on an ultrasound scan – it’s already beating about 80 times a minute!
The beginning stumps of the arms and legs stand out darkly. The baby’s arms develop faster than the baby’s legs do. At this point his or her skeleton has barely begun to form. No bone has yet been formed.
8 Weeks – Left & Right Handedness
The formation of all the baby’s organs are complete, and their fingers and elbows can be seen.
Lungs begin to development, and everything is now present that will be found in a developed adult. It is now 1/2 an inch long.
Taste buds are forming on the tongue, tooth buds for “baby teeth” are taking shape in the jaw, and eyelids are beginning to form.
The heart has been beating for more than a month, the stomach produces digestive juices and the kidneys are functioning.
Forty muscle sets begin to operate in conjunction with the nervous system. At this stage the cartilage begins to change to real bone cells.
12 Weeks – Responds to Touch
The baby’s features are now becoming more defined.
His or her lips open and close, he or she wrinkles his or her forehead, he or she raises her eyebrows, turns her head, can yawn or suck.
The baby’s eyes are covered by eyelids even if they don’t seem to be.
Fingernails grow on the hands and feet, the spinal column becomes bony and little outgrowths of breasts appear upon the young chest.
The baby is now just over 2inches long. During the next few weeks, his or her body will grow rapidly increasing in weight 30 times and tripling in length.
Because the baby is a distinctly recognisable human being, he or she is no longer called an embryo, but is now known as a foetus, a Latin word for “young one”.
16 Weeks – Movement
The baby’s body has filled immeasurably. It has begun to crowd its living quarters.
At almost 13 cm (5 inches) in length and weighing nearly 110g (4 ounces), the baby can coordinate the movement of its arms and legs, though his or her mother will not likely feel it yet.
Her or his head, neck and spine curve to follow the circular uterine cavity. The baby now occupies all the room in her or his mother’s pelvis.
The first thin transparent layer of skin begins to replace the temporary protective membrane.
The eyes are still closed and her nose, eyes and lips and ears are shaping up.
The heart beats between 110 and 180 times per minute and pumps about 28 litres (6 gallons) of blood each day.
The baby’s gender might be seen on ultrasound.
20 Weeks – Responds to Sound
The baby’s mother has definitely begun to feel movement by now. If a sound is especially loud, the baby may jump in reaction to it.
His or her mother will also feel the baby’s hiccups.
The baby has its own unique waking and sleeping patterns, and even has favourite positions to sleep in.
He or she might sit upright with straightened back and legs crossed in a yoga-like position or her or she could be lounging back with his or her arms folded under their head.
The baby may pedal his or her legs, make crawling movements, roll over or turn somersaults.
Studies indicate that babies can feel pain at 20 weeks and possibly even earlier.
He or she is now about 25 cm (10 inches) long from head to heel and weighs 310g (11 ounces).
25 Weeks – Somersaults
His or her oil and sweat glands are functioning. The delicate skin is protected from the foetal waters by a special ointment called vernix.
She or he opens her or his eyes when the eyelids become unsealed. She or he scans the darkness. She or he may blink if there is a sudden noise.
For the last few weeks she or he has virtually all the neurons she or he will ever have in her brain. Variations in her or his heart beat can be recorded.
She or he inhales the amniotic fluid in preparation for breathing and would survive outside the womb if she or he was born early.
Ears have developed to the point where the baby recognises his or her mother’s voice, breathing and heartbeat.
30 Weeks – Behavioural States
The baby is now using the four senses: vision, hearing, taste and touch. The baby recognises his or her mother’s voice.
The brain is developed enough to coordinate rhythmic breathing and regulate body temperature.
There is still space enough for the baby to straighten up, as he or she puts their hand to their mouth to suck his or her thumb.
His or her eyes are open, his or her eyelids are fringed with lashes and the baby often moves his or her eyes as if searching for something to see.
The amniotic fluid is reduced by half to allow the baby room to grow. The baby is gaining weight quickly and by the end of the seventh month may weigh 1.8 kgs.
The baby’s head is covered in hair, fingernails have reached the tips of their fingers, and the toenails are close behind.
His or her skin is beginning to thicken with a layer of fat stored underneath for insulation and nourishment. Antibodies are building up.
He or she absorbs three and a half litres of amniotic fluid per day; the fluid is completely replaced every three hours.
His or her taste buds are developed and they seem to have a sweet tooth.
The baby is responding to familiar noises such as his or her mother’s voice and music and he or she will gain 0.9kg this month.
Researchers have found that babies in utero start responding to the rhythm of nursery rhymes and show evidence of learning by 34 weeks into pregnancy.
He or she is likely to add only about half a kg now because he or she will get less nourishment from the ageing placenta in the run-up to birth.
An essential part of his or her weight gain, about half a kg of it, is laid down as covering fat which will help to keep his or her warm. It will also make her more attractive as his or her body becomes more chubby.
His or her face fills out more as his or her cheeks fatten up.
He or she will soon take up their position for birth.