Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Glimpse Inside The Womb

 A visual diary from within the womb.
Have you ever rested your hand on your belly and wished you could see what's going on in there? It's your lucky day! From conception to birth, these colour images from inside the womb tell a remarkable story of new life.

Your pregnancy officially starts on the first day of your last menstrual cycle. About half way through your menstrual cycle you're body releases hormones which cause ovulation; an ova matures and is released from the oviaries where it travels down the fallopian tubes to await a companion. 

It's a fascinating process in its own right but let's not get into the science behind it, let's just enjoy the picture show.

Sperm are viable for an average of three days (depending on your "donor" they can survive for up to seven days). They can traverse up the fallopian tube within a few hours. Male sperm tend to swim harder and faster than their female counterparts but burn out quickly. The female sperm are more durable and more likely to survive the acidic conditions of the vagina.

 This is the moment life begins....when those two individual cells cease to be and their union generates a new and distinct organism.

Two Weeks
Within days, the cells divide themselves into groupings. The inner cell mass will become your baby while the outer cells will become the amniotic sac and placenta.

 It takes about three days for the egg to travel down the fallopian tube and into the uterus.

 The blastocyst then sheds it protective casing in a process called "hatching" and burrows down into the lush uterine wall.

Four Weeks

Your baby is the size as a sesame seed. The cells which once made up the blastocyst have begun organising and changing, giving shape to your baby and forming primitive organs. The brain and spinal column are visible through the translucent skin.

Six Weeks

By five weeks, the circulatory system also forms and his heart begins to beat. Your baby is drawing nutrients & oxygen through the newly formed placenta and umbilical cord.

At six weeks, his limbs and fingers are budding and his face his starting to take shape.

Eight Weeks

By week nine, the embryonic tail has gone and your baby and your baby is looking more human everyday. 

With protruding limbs and fingers, a defined nose, eyes mouth and tiny ear lobes  your new resident is about the size of a grape. 

I just blows my mind. As mothers we all know how utterly incredible it feels to be responsible for a new life but that little life is doing amazing this within just a few weeks, a tiny ova has become a tiny person. How miraculous is that!? 

Twelve Weeks

By twelve weeks your embryo has become a foetus. His facial features are even more defined and his tooth buds are forming. Over the next few weeks, his tissues and organ will rapidly grow and mature. The webbing has gone from between his fingers and toes. His nails and finger prints are developing.

You're baby can open and close his fists and curl his toes. Thanks to his developing muscles & reflexes he's now moving his limbs. If you lie on your back in the middle of the night, you might be able to feel his butterfly like movements in your tummy.

Through his translucent skin his vital organs are visible and functioning organs including his developing brain, nervous system, intestine and liver. The liver is making blood cells now in place of the disappearing yolk sac.

The umbilical  cord is working hard now. One vein is delivering oxygen & vitamin rich blood to your baby while two arteries are carrying the spent blood away. 

Fourteen Weeks

By week fourteen your baby's eyes and ears have moved into place. He can squint frown and grimace but he can't open his eyelids.

The kidneys have started producing urine which your baby will soon start excreting into the amniotic fluid. He'll swallow the fluid (which is why it's so important to drink lots of water & dilute this fluid) and the process will begin again.

Sixteen Weeks

Between 15 and twenty weeks your baby will more than double in size.
His nervous system is rapidly maturing. His nerves are connecting  his brain to the rest of his body,  through the brain stem and down his spine, beginning to extend into his torso & limbs.

Your baby's skeleton is changing too. The soft cartilage is transforming into bone beginning with his arms and thighs. Sensory development is picking up speed, your baby's brain is designating areas to smell, taste, vision, hearing and touch.  

By eighteen weeks you'll start to experience one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy... your babys movements.

Twenty Weeks

Foetal yawning; it's hard work growing up so fast! Yawning is great practise for his lungs. At this stage, your baby is also starting to develop a wake/sleep pattern. Finger nails cover his finger tips and he's starting to develop pigment in his skin.

Twenty Two Weeks

By 22 weeks your baby  your baby sense of touch is developing along with his unique fingerprints. When you rub of gently press on your belly, you may feel your baby kick out in response. He can feel his own face & body by now, can reach out and grab his umbilical cord (or anything within grasp) and enjoys sucking on his thumb.

Around twenty three weeks your baby can swallow and you might feel him hiccups's common for him to get the hiccups several times each day. His lungs are also forming millions of tiny branches called bronchioles. Incredibly your baby is already practising breathing by inhaling and moving tiny amounts of amniotic fluids in & out of his lungs

Twenty Four Weeks

By twenty four weeks your baby is capable of surviving outside the womb (with a lot of medical help)  His eyes have developed though the irises still lack pigment. His skin, however, is starting to form pigment.

Around twenty three weeks your baby can swallow and you might feel him hiccups's common for him to get the hiccups several times each day. His lungs are also forming millions of tiny branches called bronchioles.

Incredibly your baby is already practising breathing by inhaling and moving tiny amounts of amniotic fluids in & out of his lungs

By 28 weeks your baby's eyelids may open as a reflex but he can't see yet. His lips are formed and he now has tiny taste buds on his tongue.  Just one more trimester to go.

Twenty Eight Weeks

 Your baby now has the same body proportions as a newborn just much smaller and thinner. He's triple his weight between now & his birth developing a layer of fat which will keep him warm outside the womb. Your babys skeleton is hardening, the bones in his head haven't quite forming (allowing for some wiggle room as he passes through the birth canal.

Millions of nerve cells are firing in your babys brain creating vital connections that will help him learn both inside and outside the womb. Your baby can open his eyes now and recognise the light coming through your womb. He can hear now too, so go ahead and talk or sing.

As your due date nears, your baby will shed some of the vernix, the white cheesy substance that covers his body & protects his skin. Your baby swallows some of these bits (along with other secretions) which pass through his digestive system to become his first bowel movement.

Thirty Six Weeks

At thirty seven weeks his skin is pink and soft. He's looking more like a newborn baby every day and he's gaining a ounce every day.

He's now considered full term.

In preparation for birth, he'll turn face down with his head in you pelvic area as he awaits the right time to join to the world.

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