Prenatal development and childbirth
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Prenatal Development and Childbirth. Chapter 3. 3. Prenatal Development and Childbirth. Prenatal Growth and Development Prenatal Environmental Influences Childbirth The Evolving Family. Prenatal Growth and Development. Prenatal development is divided into three periods:

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Prenatal Development and Childbirth

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Prenatal Development and Childbirth

Chapter 3


Prenatal Development and Childbirth

Prenatal Growth and Development

Prenatal Environmental Influences


The Evolving Family

Prenatal Growth and Development

Prenatal development is divided into three periods:

Germinal: 0 to 2 weeks

Embryonic: 2 to 8 weeks

Fetal: 9 to 38 weeks

Prenatal Growth and Development

Ovulation occurs about 2 weeks after start of menstrual period

The ovum (egg) travels through fallopian tubes, where fertilization may take place

If fertilization takes place, a zygote results

Two Ways to Describe the Prenatal Period

Germinal Period

Time of extremely active cell vision

Toward end of first week after conception, cells have developed into a blastula, ball of cells around a fluid-filled center

Cells begin to differentiate to form supportive structures

Twins may develop during the first few divisions of the zygote

Monozygotic (identical) twins develop when two identical cells separate and develop into two embryos

Dizygotic (fraternal) twins develop when two eggs (ova) are released simultaneously and each unites with a different sperm

Ovulation and Fertilization

Embryonic Period

Beings when implantation is complete

Some cells form the embryonic disc, from which the child will develop

Other cells will form supportive structures differentiated into the:


umbilical cord

amniotic sac

The Embryo

Develops into three distinct layers:

Ectoderm: outer layer

Will become skin, sense organs, brain, nervous system

Mesoderm: middle layer

Will become muscles, blood, excretory system

Endoderm: inner layer

Will become digestive system, lungs, thyroid, thymus, and other organs

The Embryo (continued)

During the second month, most major body structures develop, except the brain

Spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) occur primarily during first trimester, usually by 12 or 13 weeks

Often caused by genetic defects or unsuccessful implantation

Maternal age, health, nutrition, and exposure to toxic substances, are also risk factors

The Fetal Period

Lasts from the beginning of third month until birth

Organs and systems mature and develop, especially the brain and nervous system

At age 24 weeks, the healthy fetus reaches the age of viability, meaning it has a 50% chance of surviving outside the womb if given high-quality intensive care

Half of surviving fetuses born at 24 weeks have serious anomalies

Week 12

Size: 3 inches long, 1 ounce

Arms, legs, and fingers are developed and can move

Fingerprints developed

Sexual organs developed

Vocal cords and taste buds formed

Eyes and teeth begin to develop

Milestones of Development in the Fetal Period

Week 16

Size: 5 1/2 inches long, 4 ounces

Heartbeat is stronger and more regular

Lanugo develops and covers the body

Fingernails and toenails developed

Week 20

Size: 10-12 inches long, 8 oz. – 1 pound

Senses of taste and smell formed

Hair and eyelashes developed

Movements can be detected by mother

Fetus sucks its thumb

Milestones of Development in the Fetal Period

Week 24 (age of viability)

Size: 11-14 inches long, 1 pound to 1 pound 8 oz.

Eyes formed and open

Posture straightened and internal organs shift

Brain development occurs

Week 28

Size: 14-17 inches long, 2 pounds, 8 oz. to 3 pounds

Body fat is accumulated

Body rhythms developing

Brain develops localized centers

Fetus can feel pain and touch; responds to sound and vibration

Milestones of Development in the Fetal Period

Week 32

Size: 16 ½ - 18 inches long, 4-5 pounds

Rapid weight gain; body regulation becomes refined

Most bones formed

Fetus could survive without medical intervention

Week 36-38

Size: 19 inches long, 6 pounds

Hearing is complete

Fetus shifts to “head-down”

Vernix caseosa falls away; lanugo dissolves

Antibodies are passed from the mother

Milestones of Development in the Fetal Period

Developmental Trends

Three general trends characterize early developmental processes:

Cephalocaudal trend

Development advances from the head to the feet

Proximodistal trend

Development proceeds from the middle of the body outward

Gross-to-specific trend

Responses become more specific as development advances

Developmental Trends

Three general trends characterize early developmental processes:

Cephalocaudal trend

Development advances from the head to the feet

Proximodistal trend

Development proceeds from the middle of the body outward

Gross-to-specific trend

Responses become more specific as development advances

Prenatal Environmental Influences

Both genetic defects and environmental influences during the prenatal period or childbirth can result in congenital anomalies

Maternal age is linked to increased incidence of congenital anomalies

One in 25 mothers over the age of 45 will have a child with Down syndrome

Age may be related to age of the ova, which may become damaged over time

Hormone levels also shift as women age

Maternal Health and Nutrition

Maternal malnutrition in pregnancy is linked to:

higher rates of spontaneous abortion

premature birth


later difficulties in development

Early quality prenatal care is associated with having healthy babies

Critical Periods in Prenatal Development

A critical period is one during which the developing child is at the greatest risk for harm as a result of teratogens

Sometimes exposure to a specific teratogen causes specific harm

Or, exposure to certain teratogens may increase overall risk of damage

Critical Periods in Prenatal Development

Teratogens and Their Effects

Viruses (HIV, rubella, the flu) may cross the placental barrier and affect the baby

Using HAART therapy and Caesarian delivery, mother-to infant HIV transmission reduced to near zero

Certain prescription drugs can cause damage

Teratogens and Their Effects

Prenatal alcohol exposure:

May cause fetal alcohol affects or fetal alcohol syndrome

Also increases risk for learning disabilities, attention problems, and hyperactivity

No amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is safe

Video Clip

Facts about fetal alcohol syndrome and faces of victims:

Teratogens and Their Effects

Marijuana exposure is linked to birth defects, structural defects, and cognitive deficiencies

Cigarette smoking may lead to stillbirth, prematurity, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and cognitive deficits

Amphetamine drugs (e.g., cocaine) may damage the nervous system


Three stages:

initial labor

labor and delivery


Childbirth practices vary widely among cultures and generations

Many women prefer natural childbirth today, though with medical assistance

Birthing centers are becoming more common

Cesarean section used in 26% of U.S. births

Technological Innovations

Allow physicians to detect problems early in pregnancy:

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)



Fetal monitors

Video Clip

Broadcast news story on 3D and 4D ultrasound technology:

Complications in Childbirth

Breech presentation may require c-section

Baby’s general health is evaluated on the 10-point Apgar Scale

Prematurity is associated with:

Low birth weight

Difficulty adjusting after birth

Behavioral problems in childhood

Video Clip

Describes the benefits of kangaroo care:

The Apgar Scoring System for Newborns

Video Clip

Description of the Apgar scale:

The Evolving Family

Birth is a psychological and social milestone for the family

The transition to parenting can be challenging

Pregnancy affects mothers emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically

Fathers may feel a greater sense of responsibility and concern about the future

Video Clip

Describes a nurse-family partnership program in Sacramento County, California that is in danger of being eliminated:

The Newborn

The child experiences birth trauma

Average full-term newborn weighs between 5 pounds, 8 ounces and 9 pounds, 8 ounces

Typically between 19 and 22 inches long

May have enlarged genitalia

Upon birth, babies make major adjustments to their respiration, circulation, digestion, and temperature regulation

The Newborn

Babies are born with two types of reflexes


Breathing, sucking, rooting, sneezing, gagging


May have had survival value in evolutionary past, these reflexes disappear during first months of life

Video Clip

Description of the primary reflexes:

The Newborn

Social and emotional processes of the infant will lead to development of attachment

Attachment is reciprocal:

Extends from infant to caregiver and visa versa

For example, breast-feeding is good for mother and baby

Infant-caregiver interactions shortly after birth establish the foundation of the attachment relationships that will continue through life


Prenatal development is divided into three 3-month trimesters—germinal, embryonic, and fetal

Three general trends characterize early development—cephalocaudal, proximodistal, and gross-to-specific

Genetic defects and environmental influences (e.g., maternal age, malnutrition, and specific teratogens) can cause birth defects


Childbirth is divided into three stages—initial labor, labor and delivery, and afterbirth

Childbirth customs vary across cultures

Cesarean sections are being increasingly performed, even when not medically necessary

Premature is associated with low birth weight and early adjustment difficulties

A baby’s general health can be evaluated on a scale called the Apgar Scoring System


Birth marks a dramatic transition for newborns, who must make major adjustments to their respiration, circulation, digestion, and temperature regulations

Babies are born with survival reflexes

Shortly after birth, babies and caregivers engage in behaviors that will lead to attachment

Attachment forms the foundation for later social and personality development

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