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Complete Stages of Fetal Development

Before you and your partner even know that you’re expecting a new addition, your future child’s development has already begun, notes both MayoClinic.com and MedlinePlus. Pregnancy and its accompanying fetal development are divided into three distinct trimesters. While you might experience some unpleasant side effects like morning sickness, rest assured that your future son or daughter is developing into a healthy child as a result of your experiences. Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, eating healthfully, promptly treating any infections and staying away from radiation are all crucial steps you can take to help your growing child’s healthy development.

The First Trimester

The first trimester, or first three months of pregnancy, is a critical growing time for your future child, notes both MayoClinic.com and MedlinePlus. You might not even know you are pregnant right away, but your baby’s blood vessels, heart, brain, spinal cord and body limbs have begun to form. Midway through the first trimester, your baby’s heart starts pumping blood and multiple layers of skin form to create both interior and exterior features. By week 11, your future child’s genitals and facial features have started to take shape. At the end of the first trimester, the average baby is about 2 ½ inches long and weighs about ½ oz.

The Second Trimester

Hopefully, you know that you’re pregnant and are getting regular prenatal care by the second trimester of your pregnancy; MayoClinic.com notes that during this phase expectant moms and dads can often hear their baby’s heartbeat at doctor’s appointments. By week 14 of your pregnancy, your baby has the ability to urinate and has fully formed sex organs; you and your partner may opt to request an ultrasound to learn your future child’s gender. About halfway through the second trimester, your baby is moving and can hear; some moms play music for their future children. If your baby is a girl, her uterus should form by the end of the second trimester; perhaps one day she, too, will become a mom.

The Third Trimester

At the beginning of the third trimester, you’re about 28 weeks pregnant and likely about 12 weeks away from giving birth, according to MayoClinic.com. Your baby’s eyes will open during this stage of natal development; your future child will also begin to practice breathing, develop a firm grasp with its limbs and rapidly gain weight. The average baby at birth weighs about 7 ½ lbs. and is 14 inches long from head to rump. If your baby is smaller or larger, that’s usually just fine.

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