Describe stages of development from fertilisation to end of gestation

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.6: Understand the needs of the mother and baby during pre-conception, pregnancy and the first year of life
Learning outcome: Understand development from conception to end of gestation
Assessment criteria: Describe stages of development from fertilisation to end of gestation

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This page describes the stages of development of a baby from fertilisation to the end of gestation.

Fertilisation is when the sperm meets the egg, and they join together. This is also known as conception.

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Gestation is the period of time from fertilisation to birth and can be divided into three stages; germinal, embryonic and fetal.

Germinal stage (0-2 weeks)

After fertilisation, the zygote (fertilised egg) undergoes a series of cell divisions to form a ball of cells called the blastocyst. The blastocyst implants itself onto the lining of the uterus (womb), where it will continue to grow and develop over the next nine months.

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Embryonic stage (3-8 weeks)

The baby’s major organs and body systems begin to develop during the embryonic stage. The heart starts to beat, and the nervous system begins to form.

Fetal stage (9-40 weeks)

During the fetal stage, the baby continues to grow and develop. The organs and systems that were started during the embryonic stage continue to develop and mature.

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Trimesters

Pregnancy usually lasts around 40 weeks, split into three trimesters.

During the first trimester (weeks 1-12), the baby’s body begins to form, and the heart, brain and nervous system start to develop.

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The second trimester (weeks 13-27) is a time of rapid growth. The baby starts to move, and the mother will feel her first kick around week 22.

The third trimester (weeks 28-40) is a time of final development and growth. The baby’s organs are fully developed, but the lungs are not yet mature. Around week 37, the baby is considered full-term and ready for birth.

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