Fetal Development in the first Month after Conception

The birth of a child is often referred to as the beginning of a new life. Yet in some respects, the series of events that takes place before birth are even more important than that which occurs afterward. If the happenings before birth – known as the period of fetal development – do not occur properly, the life of the child from then on will be handicapped or, worse, cut short.

At the time of conception, the hereditary account of a child is sealed. It is at this time when the child’s characteristics are determined: color of the eyes, color of hair, type of body build, mental capabilities, and many others. During the next nine months of pregnancy, the body of the child is in the making. How does the stage of fetal development look like during the first month after conception?

In the first month after conception, the fundamental units of specialized cells, which formed into a tiny structure, is on its way to becoming a human being; it measures only about a fourth of an inch (0.6 cm.) in length. Yet it is amazing that at this stage of fetal development, the beginnings of several vital systems of organs are already in place.

The month-old embryo, as the tiny structure is called at this stage of fetal development, has no arms or legs as yet. The area of its face appears very odd; the entire shape of the embryo may be likened to a new moon. Two features of the embryo stand out at this stage: a bulge brought about by the beginning brain and another produced by the crude heart.

Despite the heart’s appearance (it is like a tube that has been bent on itself), the organ is already beating and causing the blood to move through the small vessels already existing in this stage of fetal development. Likewise at this stage of fetal development, the brain of the embryo looks like a hollow organ, with several swellings in the head’s region; the organ tapers down to a narrow tube (the spinal cord-to-be) running along the back of the embryo.

The future eyes look like thickened disks of tissue associated with the brain’s forward portion; each eye-to-be on each side.  Farther back, along the sides of the head of the embryo, are two similar thickenings of the surface tissue which will subsequently be covered up just above the neck – these are the future inner ears.

At this stage of fetal development, the digestive organs are composed of a simple tube which runs the full length of the embryo. Buds of tissue begin to develop near the heart – the future lungs. Finally, just below the stomach, the liver is beginning to form as a branch of the intestinal tube. This completes the fetal development in the first month after conception.

Sources:

1. “Prenatal Development: Conception through Five Months,” by Francis J. Beckwith, on CRI – Christian Research Institute (online) – http://www.equip.org/articles/prenatal-development-conception-through-five-months

2. Fetal development information – Month One, Baby developing inside you (online) – http://www.meditech.cn/fetal_development/month1-fetal.htm

3. “Fetal Development – The First 9 Months,” on More4Kids info (online) – http://pregnancy.more4kids.info/103/fetal-development-the-first-9-months/