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Prenatal Development

Development happens quickly during the Prenatal Period, which is the time between
conception and birth. This period is generally divided into three stages: the germinal stage,
the embryonic stage, and the fetal stage.
Prenatal Stages Development
• Stage 1: The Germinal StageThe two-week period after conception is called
the Germinal Stage. Conception occurs when a sperm cell combines with an
egg cell to form a Zygote. About thirty-six hours after conception, the zygote
begins to divide quickly. The resulting ball of cells moves along the mother’s
fallopian tube to the uterus.
• Around seven days after conception, the ball of cells starts to become
embedded in the wall of the uterus. This process is called Implantation and
takes about a week to complete. If implantation fails, as is quite common, the
pregnancy terminates. One key feature of the germinal stage is the formation of
a tissue called the Placenta
• Stage 2: The Embryonic StageThe Embryonic Stage lasts from the
end of the germinal stage to two months after conception. The
developing ball of cells is now called an Embryo. In this stage, all the
major organs form, and the embryo becomes very fragile. The biggest
dangers are teratogens, which are agents such as viruses, drugs, or
radiation that can cause deformities in an embryo or fetus. At the end of
the embryonic period, the embryo is only about an inch long.
• Stage 3: The Fetal StageThe last stage of prenatal development is the Fetal Stage, which
lasts from two months after conception until birth. About one month into this stage, the sex
organs of the fetus begin to form. The fetus quickly grows as bones and muscles form, and it
begins to move inside the uterus. Organ systems develop further and start to function.
During the last three months, the brain increases rapidly in size, an insulating layer of fat
forms under the skin, and the respiratory and digestive systems start to work independently.
• Fetal Viability
• Around twenty-two to twenty-six weeks after conception, the fetus reaches the age of
viability, after which it has some chance of surviving out-side the womb if it is born
prematurely. The chances of a premature baby’s survival increase significantly with each
additional week it remains in the mother’s uterus.
Infancy Development
• Infancy
• The stage of infancy lasts from birth until approximately the age of 2. During infancy,
a great deal of initial learning occurs. This learning is provided through environmental
cues, such as a parents behaviour. Very basic skills are mastered during this time
period, such as crying, nursing, co-ordination and the ability to represent images and
objects with words.
• An important influence in the child's life at this stage is the parents. It is very common
to see a child at the ages of 7-9 months old become upset when they are separated from
their primary caregiver. This phenomenon is known as attachment, and is important in
determining how a child will behave in future relationships as they mature.
• What to expect
• At first, caring for your baby might feel like an endless
cycle of feeding, diapering and soothing. But soon, signs
of your baby's growth and development will emerge.
• Motor skills. Your newborn's head will be wobbly at first
and movements will be jerky. But soon your baby will be
able to lift his or her head and chest while lying on his or
her stomach, as well as stretch and kick his or her legs in
that position. If you offer a toy, your baby might grasp it
and hold on tight for a few moments.
• Hearing. Your infant will be sensitive to noise levels.
Expect your baby to begin responding to the sound of
your voice by smiling and gurgling back at you. He or she
will also begin turning toward the direction of sounds.
• Vision. Your baby will probably focus on your face, particularly your
eyes, during feedings. At age 1 month, your baby will prefer to look
at bold patterns in sharply contrasting colors or black-and-white. By
around age 2 months, your baby's eyes will become more
coordinated, allowing for tracking an object. Soon your baby will
begin to recognize familiar objects and people at a distance.
• Communication. By age 2 months, your baby might coo and
repeat vowel sounds when you talk or gently play together.