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Your baby

Week 1
The egg from which the baby will develop has not yet been released. At this point, pregnancy is only a hope!

Week 2
A ripe egg pops out of the ovary and travels through the Fallopian tube. If it encounters sperm cells within the next 24 hours, it can be fertilized.
Each spermatozoon contributes half of the genetic material, including the X or Y chromosome that determines the sex of the unborn child. Whether the baby will be a boy or a girl is not decided until the chromosomes from the egg and sperm combine.
At this time, the child's hair and eye color as well as hundreds of other genetic traits are irrevocably decided. The cell that arises from this combination of the egg cell and the sperm cell already contains the new person's entire genetic legacy.
Week 2 is also called the "blastocystic" or "pre-embryonic" stage. It begins with the release of the egg and ends with the beginning of embryo formation.

Week 3
The egg is developing. You are becoming the mother of one or more children (if there are twins). After the third week, the embryo implants in the uterus. Implantation is not complete until the 26th or 27th day. The embryo is less than a millimeter long.
The placenta forms: The blood vessels in the endometrium branch and intertwine with the mother's. Within the uterus, the "envelope" surrounding the embryo is formed. It is called the amnion or amniotic sac.

Week 4
The embryo is now as large as a tiny seed and barely one millimeter long. The placenta is growing. The blood vessels in the endometrium intertwine with the mother's.
The amniotic sac grows along with the embryo. It contains amniotic fluid that protects the embryo from injuries and provides the ideal temperature for growth.
The outside of the embryo is in close contact with the uterine wall and is nourished via the mother's nutrient-laden blood.

Week 5
The embryonic cells organize themselves into the three embryonic layers from which all of the child's organs and parts will later develop.
The skeleton and muscles-including the heart -, circulatory system, kidneys, and sex glands develop from the middle layer. The outer layer becomes the nervous system, sensory organs, skin, body hair, nails, and hair. The digestive and respiratory systems arise from the innermost layer.

Week 6
At this stage, the embryo is the size of a grain of rice.
Along with all the major organs, the umbilical cord develops, forming a lifeline between you and your baby. The connection between the mother's and child's circulation continues as the child's circulatory system develops further. You can see your baby's heart beat on an ultrasound scan or hear it by means of Doppler sound waves.

Week 7
The upper and lower limbs are already visible.
In the seventh week, the pancreas, kidneys, and cerebral cortex develop. You can see your baby's profile: eyes, mouth, nose, and ears are becoming increasingly well defined. Rudimentary kidneys and lungs are already present. The heart is now twice as large and the intestines and bladder meet in a shared excretory organ, the cloacae. The umbilical cord is already fully formed.

Week 8
The embryo measures 14 to 20 mm. All internal organs have formed. The heart and liver are relatively large and nearly fill the abdominal cavity. The liver accounts for ten percent of the body weight: during the fetal stage it will be responsible for all blood cell production. The spinal column and vertebrae gradually develop. The umbilical cord is also strikingly large, because it contains part of the embryonic intestines. The head grows bigger.

Week 9
The embryo is now fully formed and is called a fetus. There is a clear separation between the head and chest, which can easily be distinguished on an ultrasound image. Arms and legs become recognizable. The limbs grow longer and bend at the elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles.
The heart is divided into a right and left chamber, and beats with a pulse of 120-180 per minute. The thyroid gland grows in its final location. The cloaca divides into the anorectal canal in the back and the urogenital tract in the front.

Week 10
The child's head now takes up one-third of the body.
In the brain, the corpus callosum-the nerve structure that joins the two halves of the brain-forms. Bones, muscles, nerves, and vascular trunks begin to develop. The first tooth buds, from which the baby teeth will later grow, become visible. The external genitalia form.

Week 11
In week 11 a critical milestone is reached: your baby is now through the critical period of development.
In the male genitalia, the glans develops; in females the outlines of the uterus can be seen. In the pancreas, the islets of Langerhans form. These are the clusters of cells that produce insulin.

Week 12
The bones, which are still soft cartilage, take form and the fingernails grow longer. Your baby can now move its tiny fingers! However, it is still too small for you to notice its movements.
In the next six months, the baby develops further and gains length and weight. The placenta handles the fetus' vital functions. It supplies the baby with the necessary hormones, and filters oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream through the umbilical cord, allowing the baby to grow.
Page created on: 03/09/2012
Last modified on: 03/09/2012
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