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Pregnancy


Overview :

Pregnancy is a state in which a woman carries a fertilized egg inside her body. Due to technological advances, pregnancy is increasingly occurring among older women in the United States.

First month

At the end of the first month, the embryo is about a third of an inch long, and its head and trunk-plus the beginnings of arms and legs-have started to develop. The embryo receives nutrients and eliminates waste through the umbilical cord and placenta. By the end of the first month, the liver and digestive system begin to develop, and the heart starts to beat.

Second month

In this month, the heart starts to pump and the nervous system (including the brain and spinal cord) begins to develop. The 1 in (2.5 cm) long fetus has a complete cartilage skeleton, which is replaced by bone cells by month's end. Arms, legs and all of the major organs begin to appear. Facial features begin to form.

Third month

By now, the fetus has grown to 4 in (10 cm) and weighs a little more than an ounce (28 g). Now the major blood vessels and the roof of the mouth are almost completed, as the face starts to take on a more recognizably human appearance. Fingers and toes appear. All the major organs are now beginning to form; the kidneys are now functional and the four chambers of the heart are complete.

Fourth month

The fetus begins to kick and swallow, although most women still can't feel the baby move at this point. Now 4 oz (112 g), the fetus can hear and urinate, and has established sleep-wake cycles. All organs are now fully formed, although they will continue to grow for the next five months. The fetus has skin, eyebrows, and hair.

Fifth month

Now weighing up to a 1 lb (454 g) and measuring 8-12 in (20-30 cm), the fetus experiences rapid growth as its internal organs continue to grow. At this point, the mother may feel her baby move, and she can hear the heartbeat with a stethoscope.

Sixth month

Even though its lungs are not fully developed, a fetus born during this month can survive with intensive care. Weighing 1-1.5 lbs (454-681 g), the fetus is red, wrinkly, and covered with fine hair all over its body. The fetus will grow very fast during this month as its organs continue to develop.

Seventh month

There is a better chance that a fetus born during this month will survive. The fetus continues to grow rapidly, and may weigh as much as 3 lb (1.3 kg) by now. Now the fetus can suck its thumb and look around its watery womb with open eyes.

Eighth month

Growth continues but slows down as the baby begins to take up most of the room inside the uterus. Now weighing 4-5 lbs (1.8-2.3 kg) and measuring 16-18 in (40-45 cm) long, the fetus may at this time prepare for delivery next month by moving into the head-down position.

Ninth month

Adding 0.5 lb (227 g) a week as the due date approaches, the fetus drops lower into the mother's abdomen and prepares for the onset of labor, which may begin any time between the 37th and 42nd week of gestation. Most healthy babies will weigh 6-9 lb (2.7-4 kg) at birth, and will be about 20 in. long.




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