You might hear different things about when a baby is ready to be born, or when he can safely be born even if he’s premature.
It can be a worrying time for some mothers.
Wondering about when your baby can be born safely can be a source of concern.
This might be the case for you – especially if you’ve already had a miscarriage or stillbirth.
This is also a common worry for many mothers.
So when is a baby fully formed and ready to be born?
When does an embryo become a fetus?
It’s important to look first at the scientific terms for a baby.
These are the biological terms and the stages they refer to:
- Zygote: an egg that has been fertilized by a sperm
- Blastocyst: a zygote that has begun to divide and grow
- Embryo: the zygote becomes an embryo around 5 weeks of pregnancy, when various systems of the body begin to form
- Fetus: around 8 weeks, when the heart has begun beating, your baby will be considered to be a fetus
Of course, these are the scientific terms, but you’re more likely to refer to him (or her) as your baby.
As soon as the sperm and the egg join and implant into the wall of the uterus, your baby has started on his journey of growth!
How long does it take for a baby to form in your stomach?
A common misconception is that a baby grows in the woman’s stomach.
The mother’s stomach is only for the digestion of food.
If you hear someone saying a baby is in the stomach, they’re likely to be referring to the belly area.
The baby grows in the womb, otherwise known as the uterus.
It’s near the stomach, and it can certainly feel like the baby is in there when it’s causing digestive problems or when the baby is big enough to push against it!
What is the first organ to form in the womb?
The first thing you’re likely to notice in your baby’s development is his heart, when you see it on the ultrasound or hear it beating on the doppler.
A doppler is an instrument used to listen to the heartbeat.
This is one of the things mothers get the most excited about in early pregnancy.
It can also be one of the things they worry about the most; seeing or hearing there’s a heartbeat is crucial to knowing you have a healthy baby.
What is the last organ to develop in a fetus?
By the time you reach the third trimester, your baby’s brain will be completely formed but the inner neural pathways and connections will still be wiring up.
When is a baby’s brain fully developed in the womb?
An amazing fact about the human brain is that it continues to develop after birth, even well into early adulthood. After birth, many of the ways you respond to your baby will help his brain development.
Check out The Fourth Trimester – 8 Ways To Create One For Your Baby for more information about responding to your baby.
Which trimester is the most critical?
The first trimester is when all the structural and organ development is underway. At this stage, a developing fetus is the most vulnerable to any harmful influences.
It’s also the time when birth defects and miscarriages are most likely to happen.
During this stage of pregnancy, getting plenty of high-quality nutrition helps your body support the amazing development going on inside.
Not drinking alcohol, and avoiding tobacco smoke and harmful substances will go a long way to protecting your baby in this critical period of development.
Find out more in What To Avoid During The First Trimester.
Which trimester does the baby grow the most?
By the time you get to the second trimester, your baby’s growth is really accelerating. It’s also the time when the digestive system, including organs such as the intestines, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas becomes fully formed.
The central nervous system is developing apace, triggering your baby’s movements and other antics in there.
During this stage of pregnancy, you’ll be gaining more weight, to keep up with your baby’s demands on your body.
Exercise and a healthy diet are key components of how you can support your body and your baby’s health too.
At what week can a baby survive outside the womb?
Babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature. Advancements in medical technology have meant that babies born very early have a much better chance of survival than they did even a few decades ago.
Today, doctors consider 24 weeks as the earliest a baby is able to survive outside the womb. Babies born earlier than this can’t survive as their lungs and vital organs are underdeveloped.
A baby born at 24 weeks gestation is still very premature and will need a lot of intensive care support to avoid complications due to prematurity.
For more information be sure to read Premature Babies – What To Expect Week By Week.
Fetal development stages
Your baby goes through three stages of prenatal development.
The first is the two weeks after conception, called the germinal stage.
Then comes the embryonic stage, which is week 3 to 8.
The time from week 8 until birth is the fetal stage – the third and final stage of development for your baby.
BellyBelly’s pregnancy week by week series goes into more detail about the way your baby develops as your pregnancy progresses.
In which week is delivery safe?
Babies are considered full term from 37 weeks. Their organs are fully formed and most of their body systems are able to cope with life outside the womb.
Although the lungs first start to develop at about 6 weeks, it’s not until 35 weeks that your baby’s lungs are putting their ‘final touches’ on, preparing to breathe for the first time.
The development of your little one is a delicate process.
Everything is happening in there so quickly – you’re growing a whole new human being!
Be easy on your body and mind as you grow this new little one, so your baby can stay in there for as long as he needs!