CHRONOLOGY OF A NEW LIFE
The life of a baby
begins long before he or she is born. Every person begins as a separate single
cell; nothing new is added but oxygen and nutrition. If the process is not interrupted, a
human being will live about nine months in the mother's uterus and decades outside it.
That person has never existed before and will never exist again.
Begins! The sperm joins the ovum (egg) to form one cell. This one cell contains the
complex genetic blueprint for every detail of human development - the child's sex,
height, skin tone, eye color, hair color, shoe size, intelligence, etc. - are determined
at fertilization by the baby's genetic code in the 46 human chromosomes. The fertilized egg
travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus, where the lining has been prepared for
implantation. Within two or three hours the cell divides into two new cells. During the
first three days it splits into thirty-two cells. By the fifth day it will divide into
ninety cells. Within one week of fertilization, a new human being implants in the mother's
uterus and is nourished there. The little egg and the tiny sperm are now an embryo. The
embryo has three layers of tissues which develop separately. The outer layer grows into
the baby's skin and nerves. The middle layer grows into cartilage, bones, connective
tissues, muscles, the circulatory system, kidneys, and sex organs. The inner layer grows
into the organs of breathing and digestion. At 22 days the baby's heart begins to beat.
During the third week the spinal cord develops. By the end of the first month, the
kidneys, liver, and digestive tract are beginning to form. The baby is about one-half inch
long, and weighs about one-third of an ounce.
|At 33 days,
the baby's fingers and feet begin to develop. At six weeks, the baby has brain waves that
can be measured with an electroencephalogram. The end of human life can be defined as the
cessation of brain waves, but many ignore the scientific evidence of brain waves in unborn
babies. Milk teeth form at 61/2 weeks and the baby's blood type is often different from
the mother's blood type. At 7 weeks the unborn baby swims freely in the amniotic sac with
a natural swimmer's stroke. By eight weeks all of the baby's body systems are present. At
nine weeks, fingerprints are evident and never change. The baby, now a fetus, is about one
and one-fourth inches long from head to buttocks and still weighs less than one ounce.
third month the baby sleeps, awakens and exercises muscles energetically - turning its
head, curling its toes, and opening and closing its mouth. The baby has developed the body
parts required to experience pain, including all of the nerves, spinal cord and thalamus.
The palm, when stroked, will make a tight fist. The baby breathes amniotic fluid to help
develop the respiratory system. From this age on, there is only growth in size and
maturation of the organs already present. All organ systems are functioning. The baby has
a skeletal structure, nerves, and circulation. By the end of this month the baby is about
four inches long and weighs just a fraction over one ounce.
fourth month the baby, nourished by the placenta, is developing reflexes, such as sucking
and swallowing. The bag of waters cushions the baby from bumps, keeps it at a constant
warm temperature, enables it to exercise its limbs and move freely, and provides liquid
for it to practice swallowing. The water inside the bubble of membranes is always fresh as
it replenishes itself completely every six hours. The baby's heart pumps the equivalent of
25 quarts of blood a day. During the 16th week, the baby can grip. The Baby is now about
six to seven inches long and weighs around five ounces.
fifth month the baby has a real growth spurt. The internal organs are maturing. The baby
begins to sleep and wake at regular intervals. Half the pregnancy has now passed, and many
babies begin to grow hair during this month. Babies born at this stage of development (19
or 20 weeks) have survived. At the end of the month, the baby is about eight to twelve
inches long and weighs from one-half to one pound.
sixth month the baby continues to grow rapidly. The organ systems are still developing.
The baby's skin is red and very wrinkled, with no underlying fat. The finger and toe
prints are visible. Baby's eyes open, and baby can see the light that filters through
Mommy's abdominal wall. At the end of this month, the baby has completed two-thirds of its
stay in the womb. The baby is about eleven to fourteen inches long and weigh about one to
one and a half pounds.
month marks another period of rapid growth for the baby. Calcium is being stored, and
fetal bones are hardening. Baby exercises by kicking and stretching. It sucks its thumb,
hiccups, and may cry. All four senses are now used, the eyelids open and close, eyes look
around, the baby can taste, touch and the mother's voice is recognized. Fat begins to be
deposited and baby starts to really gain weight. Baby is about fifteen inches long and
weighs around three pounds.
begins to thicken with a layer of fat stored underneath for insulation and nourishment.
The baby absorbs a gallon of amniotic fluid per day; the fluid is completely replaced
every three hours. By the end of this month baby is about eighteen inches long and weighs
around five to five and a half pounds, almost doubling its weight.
ninth month, the baby's quarters become so cramped that it can only turn from side to side
and most babies have now settle into a head-down position. About a week before birth,
growth is stopped and changes in the mother's hormonal balance aids in the onset of labor
and birth. At forty weeks baby will be full term and measure nineteen to twenty-one inches
in length and weigh six to nine pounds.
One cell has become two hundred
million cells before birth, and these cells weigh six billion times more than the
Tennessee Right to Life would like to give a special thanks to Lennart Nilsson
whose spectacular photography has allowed us to watch this miracle of life.