The process of human conception, growth, and birth is one of the most fascinating and intricate biological miracles in the natural world. Approximately four million children are born every year in the United States, and yet each birth is unique. the availability of fetal models and various types of charts, such as the dilation effacement chart, a fetal development stages chart, and even a labor dilation and effacement chart have made understanding the process of giving birth much easier and helped us all to better visualize the process.
How Long Do Humans Develop in the Womb?
Although we typically say that human beings gestate for nine months, it is actually quite rare for a woman to be pregnant for precisely that long. It is actually more precise to say that humans gestate for 40 weeks. There is a fair amount of variation to a healthy pregnancy, however, and for most women and babies the precise moment of birth can safely come within five weeks of the due date. Only about 4% of babies are actually born on their due date.
How Do Humans Develop in the Womb?
The prevalence of fetal models enables anyone to get a good grasp of the size and development of a child in the womb. Fetal models are available that can show development at four weeks, seven weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and so on. These can be used to help parents and others visualize the stage of their developing child, or they can be used by healthcare professionals. Fetal models are available for teaching to illustrate breech births, twins models, transverse lie, and other various stages of positioning and development.
What Happens To a Mother’s Body During Pregnancy and Birth?
There is an enormous amount of change going on in a woman’s body as a baby develops and is born. The uterus will change in size to accommodate the growing child, and during the first trimester is approximately the size of an orange. By the time a woman reaches her third trimester, her uterus will be approximately the size of a watermelon. This is just one of many physiological reactions a woman will experience. Though childbirth and labor is well known to be a painful experience, the mother’s body will also release endorphins, which have an effect much like morphine in decreasing how much pain is perceived and altering consciousness in such a way that the woman is able to think instinctually about what’s happening and cope with the experience.
Bonding Between Parents and Child
The hormone oxytocin is well known as the “love hormone.” It is secreted by the human body during sex and increases the feeling of closeness between partners. What is less well known is that the same hormone is secreted during labor, after birth, and as a woman breastfeeds her child. It is also secreted in the child’s brain as a child is touched and snuggled by its parents. These hormones increase the bonding feelings between parents and children. Perhaps most interesting, the same chemical is secreted in the brains of fathers as they smell the heads of newborn infants. This lowers the testosterone level in the man and increases feelings of love and nurturing towards the child.
These are only a few of the physiological and biological effects surrounding the miracle of human birth. Thanks to the availability of various charts and fetal models, we cannot only understand more about birth by reading but can even visualize and feel the process in a new and helpful way. The more we understand about reproduction and birth, the more amazing we find it to be.