This remarkable photograph of a tiny fetus in its unruptured amniotic sac was taken after surgery for an ectopic pregnancy in 1972. This picture demonstrates the development of a baby at only six weeks after conception.
Photograph by University of Minnesota Medical Photographer, Robert Wolfe.
Fertilization, the joining of the sperm and the egg in the fallopian tube (below) to form a unique human being, occurs. Forty-six chromosomes provide the blueprint for the embryo’s physical characteristic
The picture on the right is a fertilized egg only thirty hours after conception. Magnified here, it is no larger than the head of a pin. Still rapidly dividing, the developing embryo, called a zygote at this stage, floats down from the fallopian tube and towards the uterus.
At this point, the blastocyst, or developing embryo, is looking for a spot to implant in the uterus. Early formation of the central nervous system, backbone, and spinal column has begun. The gastrointestinal system has also begun to develop with the kidneys, liver, and intestines forming. The heart has begun to form.
The embryo’s tiny heart begins to beat by day twenty-one. The brain has developed into 5 areas and some cranial nerves are visible. Arm and leg buds are visible and the formation of the eyes, lips, and nose has begun. The spinal cord grows faster than the rest of the body giving a tail like appearance which disappears as the embryo continues to grow. The placenta begins to provide nourishment for the embryo.
Major organs have all begun to form. The embryo has developed its own blood type, unique from the mother’s. Hair follicles and nipples form and knees and elbows are visible. Facial features are also observable. The eyes have a retina and lens. The major muscle system is developed and the embryo is able to move.
The heart is almost completely developed and the heart rate can be heard on a Doppler machine at the doctor’s office. Most major organs and tissues have developed and red blood cells are now produced in the liver. The face is well formed and the eyes are almost fully developed. The eyelids will close and not reopen until the 28th week. Arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes are fully formed. Nails and earlobes start to form and tooth buds develop in the gums. Fetus can make a fist with its finger. Testosterone (male sex hormone) is produced by the testes in male fetus.
Continue to 2nd Trimester…