Fetus - Developing Fetus and Baby Developmental
The Stages of Development
Baby development is both fascinating and magical as you follow the growth and development of a human life from conception through the various stages of gestation. Pictures from all stages of gestation; germinal, embryonic, and fetal, are available from a number of sources. The fetal pictures are the most incredible as you see the stages of fetal development over a relatively short period of time - from seed to infant in nine months.
From a Seed...
The germinal stage begins with conception, when the two cells - sperm and egg - unite in the fallopian tube and together travel to the uterus. They embed in the uterus in a process called implantation, at which stage the blastocyst, as the rapidly developing zygote (fertilized egg) is called, changes names and becomes an embryo.
...To An Embryo...and on to...
The mass of cells called the embryo will quickly develop over the next 12 weeks as cells continue to multiply and differentiation continues until it is nearly complete. It is during these very early stages of pregnancy that the placenta is developing as well, in order to provide nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby. It is also during this time that the concern of spontaneous abortion is highest. Most miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy, and most planned abortions happen during the same period. By six weeks gestation, the baby's heartbeat has begun and arms and legs are developing. By eight weeks the intestines have begun to develop and teeth are growing under the gums. It's all very amazing, to be sure.
Being a Fetus
Once the baby makes it past the three month mark, another name change comes with the fetal stage of gestation. The technical name "fetus" is defined as the unborn young of a viviparous vertebrate having a basic structural resemblance to the adult animal. In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo.
During the first four weeks of the fetal stage, the vocal cords, hair, and nails are all developing, and you can tell whether the baby is a boy or girl as the genital development is advanced enough to distinguish gender. Weeks 16 to 20 find the developing fetus in the midst of a major growth spurt as his tiny heart pumps 25 quarts of blood every day and he also develops fat under his skin. Things slow down again for a few weeks while facial hair and features become more refined. By the sixth month lung development is quite extensive and by 28 weeks, if the fetus were to be born, there's very good statistics indicating he will survive.
The Value of a Midwife
When the time comes for a full-term delivery, having a midwife who has been part of the pregnancy throughout, is a wonderful experience. A midwife is an expert at preparing women for the birthing process, allowing the pregnant woman to experience her pregnancy fully, without fear of what is happening. The ideal and main function is to just be there to support the woman and allow the delivery to happen. They are guards over the process, monitoring the baby's heart rate and keeping the parents informed of options should anything out of the ordinary arise. Midwives work together with partners, educating them along the way in birthing techniques and breathing methods, such as Lamaze.
Additionally, midwives have a working relationship with at least one, often more, obstetricians and, should there be a need to move the birthing mother to a hospital she is prepared for that as well. Today's midwives are well prepared for birth complications and, since most of them can be anticipated, they are empowered and confident enough to be able to handle many of the same situations that would be considered complications in a hospital setting.