The Reproductive System:


Each month an egg or ova from the ovaries is sent through through the fallopian tubes; this is known as ovulation.  The ample time for a woman to become pregnant is during ovulation while the egg is passing through the fallopian tubes because that is where fertilization happens.  When sperm is released into a woman's reproductive system it makes its way to the fallopian tubes; if a sperm makes it to the fallopian tube and into the egg that is fertilization.  As soon as the sperm enters the egg every genetic detail of the child is set including gender.  Females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome; the egg carries the X chromosome and the sperm carries the deciding chromosome, either an X or a Y.  


When the fertilized egg (know called a zygote) reaches the uterus from the fallopian tubes it attaches to the uterine lining that is usually shed every month aka a period.  From this lining the egg recieves nourishment until the placenta is developed.  After about 8 weeks of growth the zygote is now an embryo.  At 4 weeks the embryo is already forming what will be it's face and neck and things such as the heart, blood vessels, stomach, and liver begin to develop; also at 4 weeks a home pregnancy test should be able to test positive.   At 8 weeks the fetus is about a half an inch long there are eye lids and eyes developing, the limbs are formed enough to be distinctive, and fingers and toes continue to grow as well.  When the fetus reaches 12 weeks it is about 2 inches long and begins to move on it's own and the mother may feel this movement.  Also, the doctor should be able to hear a heart beat with special machines.  A 16 week fetus is about 4.5 inches long and about 3 oz in weight.  At this stage the baby can blink, it's heart and blood vessels are fully formed, and the baby has fingerprints on it's fingers and toes.  Also at this stage the mother may feel her uterus begin to lower below her belly button.  At 20 weeks a baby weighs about 10 oz, is about 6 inches long, and starts normal human habits like yawning, thumb sucking, making faces, and stretching.  Also, at 20 weeks a doctor can get an ultrasound image of the baby using sound waves and usually tell the gender of the baby.  When the baby is 24 weeks old the baby can respond to movement and sound, it can sense it's orientation, and the mother can feel even more.  28 weeks: the baby is about 2 pounds and a few ounces and is developed enough that if the baby was born at this stage it has good chances or survival.  A 32 week old fetus is about 4 lbs and almost done developing; for the remainder of the pregnancy the baby will just gain weight, about twice it's current weight.  At 36 weeks the babies brain is rapidly developing and is almost complete, as well as the lungs; the baby usually turns head down in this stage in preparation for delivery.  40 weeks is the average length of pregnancy meaning at about 40 weeks a women goes into labor.


Labor is separated into 3 stages.  In the first stage contractions begin which is the contracted of the uterus in preparation of pushing out the baby; also in this stage the cervix (an opening from the uterus where the baby will exit the uterus) begins to thin and stretch.  The second stage begins when the cervix is fully dilated meaning it has opened up to 10 centimeters.  Once the cervix is fully dilated the pushing begins and stage two ends when the baby is delivered.  Stage three is when the placenta must be delivered.  (The placenta is an organ in the uterus that nourishes the baby in womb via the umbilical cord that connects at the baby's belly button.)  


With all the baby formula today as an alternative to breastfeeding it is no longer necessary though it is highly recommended.  Breastfeeding is the healthier option for a baby because it has all the nutrients for your baby to grow strong and healthy and it can also help protect your baby against some childhood illnesses.  Statistics also show that people who were breastfed as infants are less likely to become obese, less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and have a higher intelligence level.  Breastfeeding is also good for the mother because later in life it makes a woman less likely of developing breast or ovarian cancer.  Even if all these reasons are not enough breastfeeding is beyond an affordable option, it is completely free and still the best option for a baby.  Unfortunately there are some cases where breastfeeding is not suggested or even an option.  There are some types of infections that if the mother has can be passed to the child through breast milk; also if there are drugs or alcohol in the mother than breast milk can effect and harm the child.