CONCERNS REGARDING EARLY FETAL
The development of a baby is quite an intricate journey. From the moment that the egg and sperm
meet, a baby is beginning the developmental process. This early part of development lays the foundation for a
healthy pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby. Unfortunately, because these early weeks involve such a complex
process, things can go wrong and ultimately end in a pregnancy loss. If a possible complication in early pregnancy
is suspected, your health care provider will use a combination of blood tests and ultrasound tests to make a clear
diagnosis. A blood test can be used to monitor hCG levels and progesterone levels. Ultrasounds can be used to
visually see what development is taking place in the uterus and to measure the progress.
It is common to have many questions about what this early development truly involves and what is
to be expected. We have gathered information from different sources in order to provide the best guidelines of what
normal early fetal development looks like. However, just as every woman is different, every pregnancy develops
differently. This information should be used as a general guide for healthy pregnancy development, although
development may vary due to the mother’s health or a miscalculation of ovulation. Gestational age is the age of the
pregnancy from the last normal menstrual period (LMP), and fetal age is the actual age of the growing baby. Most
references to pregnancy are usually in gestational age rather than fetal age development, but we have included both
so that it is clear what stage development is at.
Week 1 & 2 Gestational Age - (Conception)
At this stage, the menstrual period has just ended and your body is getting ready for ovulation.
For most women, ovulation takes place about 11 - 21 days from the first day of the last menstrual period. During
intercourse, several hundred million sperm are released in the vagina. Sperm will travel through the cervix and
into the fallopian tubes. When conception takes place, the sperm will penetrate an egg and create a single set of
46 chromosomes called a zygote - the basis for a new human being. The fertilized egg, called a morula, spends a
couple of days traveling through the fallopian tube toward the uterus and dividing into cells (this dividing
process is where many chromosomal abnormalities occur). The morula becomes a blastocyst and will eventually end up
in the uterus. Anywhere from day 6 - 12 after conception, the blastocyst will imbed into the uterine lining and
begin the embryonic stage.