Anatomy and Physiology
Vagina: A muscular passageway that leads from the vulva (external genitalia) to the cervix.
Cervix: A small hole at the end of the vagina through which sperm passes into the uterus. Also serves as a protective barrier for the uterus. During childbirth, the cervix dilates (widens) to permit the baby to descend from the uterus into the vagina for birth.
Uterus: A hollow organ that houses the baby during pregnancy. During childbirth, the uterine muscles contract to push out the baby. Each month, unless a fetus has been conceived, the uterine wall sheds its lining (see The Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation below).
Ovaries: Two organs that produce hormones and store eggs. Each ovary releases one egg per month.
Fallopian tubes: Muscular tubes that eggs released from the ovaries must traverse to reach the uterus.
The Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Each month a woman’s body goes through a menstrual cycle. A woman can become pregnant only during ovulation, a several-day phase in the middle of the menstrual cycle when one of the ovaries releases an egg.
If the ovulated egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm following sexual intercourse, it will implant in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus that becomes the placenta during pregnancy. The placenta nurtures the fertilized egg as it develops and grows into a baby.
Events 1st Trimester
Weeks of Pregnancy
The woman's last period before fertilization occurs. Fertilization occurs. The fertilized egg (zygote) begins to develop into a hollow ball of cells called the blastocyst. The blastocyst implants in the wall of uterus.The amniotic sac begins to form. The area that will become the brain and spinal cord (neural tube) begins to develop.
The heart and major blood 6 vessels are developing. The beating heart can be seen during ultrasonography. The beginnings of arms and legs appear. Bones and muscles form. The face and neck develop. Brain waves can be detected. The skeleton is formed. Fingers and toes are fully defined. The kidneys begin to function. Almost all organs are completely formed. The fetus can move and respond to touch (when prodded through the woman's abdomen). The woman has gained some weight, and her abdomen may be slightly enlarged. 10 7
2nd Trimester The fetus's sex can be identified. The fetus can hear. The fetus's fingers can grasp. The fetus moves more vigorously, so that the mother can feel it. The fetus's body begins to fill out as fat is deposited beneath the skin. Hair appears on the head and skin. Eyebrows and eyelashes are present. The placenta is fully formed. The fetus has a chance of survival outside the uterus. The woman begins to gain weight more rapidly. 3rd Trimester The fetus is active, changing positions often. The lungs continue to mature. The fetus's head moves into position for delivery. On average, the fetus is about 20 inches long and weighs about 7 pounds. The woman's enlarged abdomen causes the navel to bulge. 25 20 24 16 14