Pregnancy occurs when a male sperm enters a female egg and fertilizes it. This usually happens in the woman’s fallopian tubes after ovulation, a scientific term which in layman’s language is the release of a matured egg from one of the two ovaries of the woman. Pregnancy is defined as the period between the implantation of a zygote (a fertilized egg) in the walls of the uterus and delivery. The word zygote comes from the Greek word zygotes, meaning “yoked”. The Greek word zygon means “yoke”.
There seem to be some confusion as to when conception begins in a woman. One school of thought believes that the moment the sperm and the egg first meet in the fallopian tube, conception takes place. Whereas the legal and medical definition is, conception starts when the fertilized egg or the zygote implants in the uterine wall.
All gynecologists calculate the Gestational age between 38 to 40 weeks. 38 weeks from the date of conception or 40 weeks from the last date of menstrual period. On an average it is roughly 280 days.
When the sperm and the egg fuse, the zygote is formed. On fertilization, the cells of the zygote start multiplying, many, many times. When the doctors say multiplying, it means dividing. The zygote grows and develops in the fallopian tubes. Between five and seven days time of dividing and growing it attaches itself to the walls of the uterus or the womb and like the tentacles of an octopus, puts out root like veins called the villi which secures the embryo to the linings of the uterus. In due course of time, these villi would transform itself into the placenta which feeds and protects the embryo. The word embryo comes from the Medieval Latin word embryo, which comes from the Greek word embryon, meaning “young animal, fruit of the womb, that which grows”. The development of the embryo is rapid – specialized cells create the vital organs, including the bones, muscles, blood, and the nervous system.
Thus the root like veins called the villi becomes the all important placenta, which is a multi function device. It supplies oxygen and nutrition to the growing embryo and also functions as the vehicle for removing the waste matter from the embryo and expels it through the accepted system of the mother.
When the embryo develops all the organs of a human being it is almost 12 weeks, and it is no more an embryo but a fetus. And when the embryo becomes a fetus it is hardly one inch (2.4 cms.) in size. The word fetus comes from the Latin word fetus, meaning “offspring, bringing forth, hatching of young”. As the fetus gets bigger, so does the uterus. The fetus is surrounded by a fluid, called amniotic fluid.
The fetus lives in this fluid and swallows it constantly. An amniotic test can be carried out during the pregnancy to find out about the baby’s health.
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