Lotus Thoughts

An ongoing series of informational entries

Our First Blog Entry

January 15, 2018

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Our Second Blog Entry

February 14, 2018

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The Stages of Prenatal Devleopment

May 22, 2015

I often wondered as I carried my children (especially as a first-time mom) what really happens during each trimester.


A pregnant woman carries her unborn child for 38–40 depending on if the date of the last menstrual period is used. The 38-40 weeks of pregnancy are broken down into trimesters. There is three trimester consisting of three months each. Within the trimesters there are three stages of prenatal development; germinal, embryonic, and fetal. Each stage has characteristics which mark specific development and physical growth that results in a fetus reaching the age of viability or full term.


Within the first 14 days, a single cell termed a zygote duplicate, multiplies, and splits forming two cell masses; the inner and outer mass. The first outer mass will form the placenta. The placenta protects and provides nutrients for the fetus. The second inner mass then forms a nucleus which eventually becomes an embryo. The outer cell then implants itself into the uterus where it continues to grow and move through the stages of development. This stage of prenatal development is the germinal stage.


In the 14th day, the cells move into a stage termed the embryonic stage. The embryonic stage lasts until the 56th day. In this stage, the developing child is called an embryo. During this stage, many physical changes begin to occur. The first physical development is the appearance of the primitive streak. The primitive streak as a thin line down the middle of the embryo which develops into the central nervous system, brain, and spinal column. The embryo continues to develop during this stage following a cephalocaudal (head) and proximodistal (tail) pattern. The head begins to form along with the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Arm and leg buds become apparent eventually forming into arms, palms, legs, knees, feet, and webbed fingers and toes.


The final stage of prenatal development is the fetal stage. The length of the fetal stage is from week 9 to birth. During this stage of development, organs begin to form and the sex of the fetus is determined. Brain activity increases and the formation of the digestive and excretory systems begins. Fingernails, hair, and teeth buds also begin to develop in the fetal stage.


Each stage of prenatal development marks significant growth and changes an unborn child goes through. These stages of development ensure that your child enters the world with the capacity to survive, grow, and learn!