The medical fact of human life before birth

Here are some of the earliest events that took place in your life.  Unless otherwise indicated, information on physical development taken from ‘The Developing Human’[1] and information on activity of child in womb taken from ‘The first nine months of life’[2] and ‘What the fetus feels’[3].  Please compare this chart with the following section 4.1, p11 on methods of abortion to see which methods are used for the different ages of the unborn child (Medical terms are in italics).

Week 1

•           Fertilization and implantation in lining of womb

Week 2

•           Placenta begins to form

•           Major organs forming

Week 3

•           Beginnings of heart (endocardial heart tubes)

•           Beginnings of brain (neural tube)

•           Blood circulating by end of week (blood supplied from yolk sac – not the mother!)

Week 4

           Heart beating and circulating blood!

•           Beginnings of the limbs become recognisable (upper and lower limb buds)

•           Beginnings of internal ears visible (otic pits)

•           Beginnings of the eyes visible (lens placodes)

Week 5

•           Rapid development of the brain and consequent growth of head

•           Beginnings of hands (hand plates) and feet (foot plates)

•           Mouth and nostrils (nasal pit) visible

Week 6

•           Baby able to move in response to stimuli – swimming in womb (not at ‘quickening’-20 weeks as once thought).

•           Brain waves can be recorded- evidence that the child is thinking

•           Elbow and wrist identifiable

•           Beginnings of fingers visible (digital rays)

•           Beginning of external ears

•           Eye colour begins to appear

•           Upper lips forms

Week 7

           Baby is very sensitive and can feel itself being touched even by a fine hair! Dispels the myth that unborn children do not feel pain in an abortion.

•           Child begins spontaneous movements

•           Eyelids beginning

•           Tip of nose distinct

•           Internal organs developing

•           Fingers start to separate

Week 8

•           Toes start to separate

•           Sex organs visible

•           Tiny body complete and looks similar to a fully developed baby, except for its small size and larger than normal head.[4]

Week 9

           Child will curl its fingers around an object placed in the palm of its hand.

•           Arms and legs moving

•           Eyes closing

•           Hardening of some bones begin (primary ossification) – this only finishes at about 19 years – not at birth.

•           Urine starts to form

•           Fingerprints starting to appear[5].

•           Front of body and limbs highly sensitive to touch

Week 10

•           Child swallowing fluid in womb (amniotic fluid)

•           Early fingernail development

•           Sex distinguishable from genital organs

•           Face has a fully human appearance

Week 11

•           Child can produce complex facial expressions and even smile

Week 12

•           Stroking the lips of the child will cause it to suck

•           Child’s mouth will open if touched by the thumb

•           Baby is extremely active: kicking legs, turning feet, curling and fanning toes, moving thumb and wrist and opening mouth.  The child is able to squint, frown, make a fist and swallow.

•           Child begins to grow very rapidly

Week 14

•           Bones harden – can be seen on x-rays of the mother’s abdomen

           Child can hear clearly what is happening outside the womb, as well as the sounds of the mother’s heartbeat and eating and drinking (Hearing is clear, not muffled)[6].  After birth, tape recordings of an adult heartbeat have a calming effect on infants.  A newborn baby is also able to recognise the familiar voices of its mother and father.  The child in the womb will respond to sudden noises such as a door slamming and will move more in response to high frequency sounds.

•           Early toe-nail development

Week 16

•           External ears stand out from head

•           Hair pattern determined

•           Baby is strong enough to grip onto an object placed in its hand and to maintain the grip if the object is moved away.

Week 18

•           Womb of female unborn children formed

Week 20

           Mother starts to feel the baby kicking in her womb -‘quickening’

•           Strong movements are ‘kicks’ and lighter repeated ones are ‘hiccups’.

•           The child sleeps and wakes up usually at the same time as the mother.

•           Special hair on head and body (lanugo) visible

Week 22

•           Skin wrinkled and red

•           Substantial weight gain

Week 24

•           Fingernails present

Week 26

•           Eyes partially open

•           Eyelashes present

•           Lungs developed

Week 28

•           Eyes open

•           Good head of hair often present

•           Skin slightly wrinkled

Week 30

•           Toe-nails present

•           Testes descending

Week 32

•           Fingernails reach fingertips

•           Skin pink and smooth

Week 36

•           Body usually plump

•           Baby has a firm grasp

•           Abortion is still legal virtually on demand in many countries such as the USA at this late stage – at any time before natural birth.

Week 38

•           Birth

  Most of the child’s development takes place in the first eight weeks.  After that, there are few changes other than growth.

•  The child is aware of the emotional state of the mother and moves more when she is under stress- up to ten times the normal rate.  Its heart rate will rapidly increase if a foreign object such as a needle enters the womb.

•  If air is injected into the womb during the later stages of pregnancy, the mother will be able to hear the baby crying.[7]

•  The child is affected by nicotine or alcohol if the mother takes this while pregnant.

•  Information on the activity of children in the womb is obtained from ultrasound, foetoscopy and observations on early miscarriages.  Cruel experiments by scientists on miscarried and aborted children have also expanded this knowledge.


Let us not forget that this is the same child for which the next section explains the methods of abortion.  The child feels pain just as you would.  Please refer back to this chart to understand when each method of abortion is done.

     [1]’The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology’, Fourth Edition, K.L.  Moore PhD.,1988, WB Saunders Company, London

     [2]’The first nine months of life’,G.  Lux Flanagan,Simon and Schuster,New York,1962,p62

     [3]H.B.  Valman & J.F.  Person, British Medical Journal, ‘What the fetus feels’, 26 Jan 1980,p233

     [4]See ‘Life or Death’ brochure for picture.

     [5]’Hands Off’, Humanity Publishing Society, New Zealand

     [6]A Child is Born, Lennart Nilson,Faber and Faber, London, 1977

     [7]’The Tiniest Humans’, Prof J.  Le Jeune and Prof Sir A.  Liley, edited by R.  Sassone,1977,p37