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Conception to Birth

About three hundred million sperms are ejaculated and deposited in the vagina during an act of intercourse. The fertile cervical mucus helps the sperms survive the journey to meet the egg in the Fallopian tube. It filters out abnormal sperms and enables the healthy ones to enter the cervix through channels or passageways, as if swimming up a river.
The mucus also nourishes the sperms so they will be full of energy and vitality when they reach the egg in the tube. In addition, the mucus keeps some sperms alive and healthy for three to five days in the cervical crypts (tiny "niches" in the cervical wall).

The surviving sperms must travel the length of the uterus as they make their way toward the tubes. The sperm cannot know whether the egg is to the right or to the left, so they enter both tubes. Of the millions of sperms that enter the vagina, only a few hundred will actually reach the fallopian tubes and only one will penetrate and fertilize the egg. Once, fertilization takes place, the outer wall of the ovum hardens preventing the other sperms from entering it. These other sperms ultimately die out.

FERTILIZATION TO IMPLANTATION











30 Hrs 45 Hrs 72 Hrs
Morula
4-6 Days
Blastocyst
7-13 Days
Implanted Embryo

Conception occurs as the sperm and egg unite to form a single cell, and new human life begins. This is the first stage of human life. All of us began our lives from this stage of being a single cell. The scientific term for this is fertilization. After fertilization occurs, the zygote divides, in 30 hours time, into two cells, these two, after two days become 4 cells, then into 8 cells and so on. By about the third day the zygote is a solid mass of closely packed cells, about hundred in number, called the "morula" (Latin word for mulberry). Fluid enters the zygote due to which a cavity is formed splitting the morula cells into two parts, an outer layer of cells and a clump of cells at one side. This structure is called a blastocyst. The outer cells will become the placenta, while the inner cell mass will form the embryo.

By the fourth day it enters the uterus. By the seventh or eighth day the outer wall of the blastocyst breaks down and it gets attached to the spongy nourishing lining of the womb that was prepared for it by the action of oestrogen and progesterone. The process of attachment is called nidation or implantation. By the ninth day after fertilization the blastocyst has burrowed deep into the lining and is the size of a pin-head. Four days later (at the time of the expected menstruation) it has grown enough to be just visible to the naked eye. The cervical canal is filled with a plug of thick mucus that prevents any harmful substance, bacteria, etc from entering into the uterine cavity and disturbing the growth of the delicate human life that has just begun.

STAGES OF FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Fertilization:

When the sperm meets the ovum it is a single cell about 0.1mm in size and has its own DNA material, which determines its sex and colour of the hair, eyes, etc. It remains a single cell for the first twelve hours.

30 hours:

2 cell stage
45 hours : 4 cell stage
3 days: 16 cell stage called Morula (Latin word for mulberry).
4-6 days Blastocyst, consists of hundreds of cells and is the size of a pinhead.
6th day: Implantation begins and is completed within the next 7 days i.e. around the next period. Mild spotting may occur.
14 days: Called an embryo until the end of eight weeks.
22 days: Heart (as two tubes) starts to beat for the first time.
25 days: The baby's body is beginning to develop. Head, trunk and arm buds begin to appear. Other internal organs are present in simple form and function as they grow.
30 days: Just two weeks after the mother's first missed period, the baby is a quarter inch long, has a brain of unmistakable human proportions, has eyes, ears, mouth, kidneys, liver, an umbilical cord and a heart pumping blood. "He has made himself", as described by a doctor who performed the first ever blood transfusion on an unborn baby. Head and back grows rapidly because of rapidly growing Central Nervous System (CNS).
6 weeks: Tiny fingers appear, followed within days, by toes. Eyes develop lens and retina followed by eyelids. Brain waves can be detected.
7 weeks:
The baby has developed individual fingerprints. The outer ear is present. The inner ear with its hearing and balancing mechanism is well established. Sensory nerves develop which are more sensitive to that of an adult or a new born. Skeleton is complete in cartilage form. Movements are seen but are not strong enough to be perceived by the mother.
8 weeks: Crown rump length is 40mm and is termed as embryo until the end of eight weeks. (Gk. embruon means to grow). The skeleton begins to turn from cartilage to bone.
9 weeks: Called fetus (Latin word for offspring). Bends fingers around an object in the palm of his hand. In response to touch on the sole of his foot, he will curl his toes or bend his hips and knees to move away from the touching object.
10 weeks: Brain cells which are essential for consciousness in the adult, are known to be present in the fetus by 10 weeks. Nerve fibres which transmit pain impulses are known to be present even before fibres inhibiting pain have developed, which implies that the first trimester fetus may be more susceptible to pain than at any later stage. Brain waves can be recorded i.e. EEG (Electroencephalogram).
11 weeks: The baby swallows its own amniotic fluid. Breathing movements are seen. Facial expressions are observed.
12 weeks: The features are becoming more defined. The unborn baby wrinkles her forehead, raises her eyebrows and turns her head. She measures 90mm and weighs around 45grams.
16 weeks: The baby is 1/3rd the size at full term. She measures 140mm in length and weighs 200 grams. She can hear and is sensitive to light. When light is shone on the mother's abdomen, the heartbeat of the baby changes. Similar response to sound is observed. Waking and sleeping patterns are seen.
20 weeks: Measures 190mm and weighs 460grams. Hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and nails grow. The baby is covered with vernix caseosa, a greasy substance, which protects her from prolonged contact with the amniotic fluid. The baby will gain weight and develop an insulating layer of fat beneath the skin. The baby will receive maternal antibodies against some infections as a temporary protection until the infant's own immune system is better developed.
30 weeks: For several months, the umbilical cord has been the baby's lifeline to the mother. Nourishment is transferred from the mother's blood, through the placenta, and into the umbilical cord to the fetus. If the mother ingests any toxic substances, such as drugs or alcohol, the baby receives these as well.
32 weeks: The fetus sleeps 90-95% of the day, and sometimes experiences REM sleep, an indication of dreaming.
40 weeks: The baby is ready for life outside its mother's womb. At birth the placenta will detach from the side of the uterus and the umbilical cord will cease working as the child takes his first breath of air. The child's breathing will trigger changes in the structure of the heart and bypass arteries, which will force all blood to now travel through the lungs.

Human development is a continuous process that begins at fertilization. The human life continues to grow within the womb for a period of approximately 9 months. When the child is about to be delivered, the bag of waters (amniotic fluid) breaks and the uterus begins to contract, thus resulting in minor labor pains. At this time the mother is rushed to the hospital and within a duration of 12-24 hours, the child is delivered.

DELIVERY

All through the nine months, the breasts of the women are also prepared to nurture the new born, so that at birth, when the baby is delivered, the breasts begins to function as soon as the baby feeds through its sucking action.

Many women think that menstruation is the sure sign of the return of fertility. This presumption is an error. The fertility sign is the egg white type, thin, slimy, fertile mucus. Thus, when the pituitary gland sends signals to the ovaries through the Follicle Simulating Hormone (FSH), the follicles begin to mature. As explained earlier, the mature follicle gives out an ovum, accompanied by the release of fertile mucus, as an outward sign. And, the menstruation follows normally, if that egg (ovum) is not fertilized.

Hereditary Characteristics:

The hereditary characteristics of the parents that are contained in the sperm and egg mingle and are passed on to their child. At this moment, the new person's genetic makeup viz. the colour of his eyes, hair and so forth is determined. He is unique and unrepeatable. We know that all the genetic information is there to tell us that there is a link between the parents and the children. As soon as the 23 chromosomes carried by the sperm encounter the 23 chromosomes carried by the ovum, the whole information necessary and sufficient to spell out all the characteristics of the new being is gathered.

Now, chromosomes are a long thread of DNA (DNA is the coded information for every living thing's heredity, responsible for the passing of characteristics from parents to offspring). Chromosomes consist of many DNA units called genes in which information is written. They are coiled very tightly in the chromosomes, and, in fact, a chromosome can be compared to a mini-cassette, in which a symphony is written, 'the symphony of life.'

 

 

 


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