The Development of life within the womb
Every baby begins when a tiny cell from the mother, called an ovum, joins with an even tinier cell from the father, called a sperm.
Our whole bodies are made up of millions of tiny building blocks called cells, too small to see.
When these two special cells, the sperm and the ovum, meet, they melt together and a new life begins – that’s how you started.
Inside the mother’s abdomen is a place called the uterus. This is where you continued to grow and develop.
The uterus has a wall with a lining full of special food to help the cell bundle grow. You attached yourself to this lining like a plant and sucked up food.
After 20 days the bundle of cells had changed into an early kind of body, an embryo.
By one month you were the size of an apple seed and your heart began to beat softly, like a whisper. You needed more food to grow so the cell clump made you a food factory – the placenta.
It is joined to the embryo by the umbilical cord. This cord carries food from the mother to the embryo and takes away wastes.
Already your face would have looked like a baby’s with ears, nose, lips, eyes and eyelids. These would stay closed until you were seven months inside – to protect your eyes.
This all happened inside a bag of liquid which protected you as you grew stronger.
You’d have looked like atiny astronaut floating so gracefully inside your bubble. You were turning your head, doing somersaults and practising drinking. You had also grown fingernails and had your own special marks called fingerprints. Nobody else in the world ever has the same prints as you.
If someone could have peeped inside your bubble by then your mother would have seen whether you were a boy or girl. You had even learned how to pull faces. By now you started to grow really fast and your mother had to go out and buy bigger clothes.
By four months you had fine hair and eyelashes and the doctors and nurses could hear your heart beating through a special tube called a stethoscope. Your mother would have felt so excited when she first felt you doing your somersaults – like butterflies in her tummy.
Ultrasound film shows a baby can do a thousand movements in one day.
By five months you were sucking your thumb and taking notice of outside noises. There were some noises you liked and some you didn’t.
By seven months, outside noises didn’t bother you so much because your eyelids opened. You became too busy admiring the wonderful world of the uterus. Sometimes it would have been dark and sometimes pink and rosy. It was always lovely and warm.
By eight months you were all curled up. No more somersaults because there was no room left. You got so restless that your mother could see the shape of your fists and feet in her big tummy. By this time you pushed up against the wall of the uterus with your feet, so your head got nearer the opening, waiting to come out.
You were ready to meet your mum and dad by nine months and your fingernails were so long they needed to be cut!