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a) Days 1-9. Sperm joins with ovum (egg) to form ONE cell - smaller than a grain of salt! The new life has inherited 23 chromosomes from each parent. This one cell contains the complex genetic blueprint for all physical development, i.e. from skin colour to sex. The fertilised egg travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus, where the lining has been prepared for implantation. When this occurs the nourishment required can begin.
b) Days 10-29. The developing embryo signals its presence through placental chemicals and hormones, preventing the mother from menstruating. During these three weeks, first the brain, spinal cord and nervous system are formed, the heart begins to beat and muscles, limbs, ears and eyes begin to show.
c)Days 30-50. The placenta forms a unique barrier that keeps the mothers blood separate while allowing food and oxygen to pass through to the embryo. Five fingers can be discerned in each hand and brain waves can be detected and recorded. The brain begins to control movement of muscles and organs - the liver is now taking over the production of blood cells.
d) Days 50-80. At a little more than an inch long, the developing life is now called a foetus (Latin for "offspring" or "young one") - everything is now present that will be found in a fully developed adult. The stomach produces digestive juices and the kidneys have begun to function. The foetus body now responds to touch - it can curve its fingers around an object placed in the palm of its hand.
e) Days 80-120. The foetus now sleeps, awakens and exercises its muscles energetically - turning its head, curling its toes and opening and closing its mouth. The palm, when stroked, will make a tight fist. The foetus breathes amniotic fluid to help develop its respiratory system. Sexual differentiation has become apparent. At the end of this period, the foetus is eight to ten inches long and weighs over half a pound.
f) Days 120-180. The foetus may jump in response to external sounds and oil and sweat glands begin to function. If the baby were born at the end of this period, it would survive, given proper care.
g) 180 days onwards. The baby now uses the four senses of vision, hearing, taste and touch. It can recognise its mothers voice. Antibodies build up increasingly and the skin thickens with a layer of fat stored underneath for insulation and nourishment. Most babies (85-95%) are born between 266 and 294 days weighing six to nine pounds in most cases.
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