After implantation, the embryo quickly grows from a ball of cells into what will be a fully-formed baby. However, it first needs a way to feed: the placenta.
It is an organ that actively takes nutrients and oxygen from the mother’s blood, exchanging it for the embryo’s waste products. It is extremely effective in keeping the fetus alive and protects it from infections or the mother’s immune system.
The blood is carried by the umbilical cord, which plugs into the belly button. This cord is the lifeline throughout term, and disrupting the blood supply will lead to permanent brain damage or even death.
In the first 10 weeks, the blastocyst develops into a very primitive disk-like object that shares no resemblance to a person. It keeps growing and differentiating at a rapid rate (almost doubling in size per week) until it forms an embryo that is more familiar, roughly about week 6. Interestingly, a human embryo looks almost identical to embryos of rabbits, chickens, turtles and fish, showing how all animals shared a common ancestor in the course of evolution. At this stage, the embryo has features such as gills, a tail and a fish-like appearance.
After 10 weeks, the embryo has grown to about 5~8cm (almost 10~20 times the size at week 6), and is now called a fetus. It begins to properly grow organs, and resembles a miniature baby with primitive features.
It continues to grow for the next 30 weeks, continuously relying on the mother for nutrition and life support.
Many different factors contribute to premature birth and IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), which leads to the birth of a small baby. This may result in less developed organs (especially the lungs) and may affect the health of the newborn throughout its life. There are also many poisons known to harm the development of the embryo/fetus, such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin and much more. These should be avoided from a few weeks before conception onwards (even after birth while breastfeeding).
By about 38 weeks, the lungs (the last organs to fully mature) are ready and the fetus is upside down. It is ready to leave the womb, and thus sends a signal to the mother, known as labour. This is when the arduous process of childbirth begins.
(Full series here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/arkrepro/?order=asc)