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Does Fetal Development Matter in a Pregnancy Decision?

 There are few moments more important than finding out you’re pregnant. Reactions can vary between emotional extremes. But one thing everyone has in common is a need to be well informed.

What, exactly, are the details of how a pregnancy develops? When does an embryo “become a baby?” As a woman is working through a pregnancy decision, it’s helpful to be guided by solid, scientific facts.

Caring Network is a group of pregnancy resource centers located in the western suburbs of Chicago. By offering free services and compassionate support, we come alongside women facing an unplanned pregnancy. For 40 years, we have been sharing the truth in love to women through fetal development, ultrasound, and options information. Learning more about the reality of their pregnancy and the life growing inside can help equip women through their pregnancy decision. To learn more about Caring Network’s mission and how to get involved, reach out to us today.

The Importance of Fetal Development

Before modern technology, unborn humans were sometimes perceived as just “pregnancy tissue” or uncomplicated “blobs,” especially during the first trimester.  Thanks to advances in medical technology, we now know that’s not true.  Ultrasound is truly a “window to the womb.”  We can watch the unborn smile, suck their thumb, and move around during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.  Thanks to science, we know that from the moment of conception the baby is a living, growing individual.  Their DNA declares them to be both human and completely unique.  He or she isn’t an “it” but is already genetically a boy or a girl.  Babies also grow rapidly.  Around the time the mother misses her first period, twenty-two days or so after conception, his or her heart has already begun to beat.

Fetal Development at 5-6 Weeks

It’s common for women to find out they’re pregnant around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy.  The heart begins to beat by 5 weeks, 1 day, and is visibly seen on an ultrasound. The baby also has identifiable nerves in his or her hand plates.  At six weeks the baby responds reflexively to touch and unborn brain activity begins. Fetal Development at 8 Weeks and Beyond

The embryonic period ends eight weeks after fertilization and the baby’s fetal period begins.  This is the point where the embryo becomes a fetus.  This is because the baby now has all the structures necessary for their body.  He or she won’t be making anything new… just getting bigger.

Meanwhile, by week eight the baby can roll over in the womb and perform occasional breathing motions.  Thumb sucking begins during the ninth week after conception.  The face, palms of the hands, and soles of the baby’s feet now respond to a light touch.  Finally, by week twelve the baby is now the size of a lemon.  He or she can roll, sigh, hiccup, suck their thumb, respond reflexively to touch, and make complex facial expressions, including smiling. This marks the end of the first trimester.

Fetal Development and the Pregnancy Decision

These are just a few examples of the complex development that takes place within the womb. It can be life-changing for a pregnant woman to learn more about what is happening inside her body. Being well informed is an important part of the pregnancy decision.  Without solid, scientific information, women and their partners may rush into a decision that they later regret.  Empowering women means giving them the facts of fetal development, performing ultrasounds, and helping them to take the time to review all aspects of their decision.

At Caring Network, we provide women with all the information needed to make a well-informed pregnancy decision. Our professional pregnancy center staff and medical team provide the highest level of care and expertise. Fetal development and ultrasound technology play vital roles in opening women’s eyes to the life growing inside them. Will you partner with us in this important work? Learn more today.  



The Endowment for Human Development. Prenatal Summary. Retrieved February 2021 from:

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