Images of Early Development

All human development continues from fertilization until, on average, the 23rd year of life. Some studies suggest we all continue to develop…for instance, our ears, length of nose, and size of head…even into our “old” age.


Six Weeks Old



Seven Weeks Old

A lot is going on by the time this embryo is seven weeks old. For instance, the heart has been beating for more than a month. Newly formed “simple” organs (kidneys liver, and digestive system) are growing now. These organs are not yet working like they will at the time of birth. Instead, the placenta and umbilicus are doing the work for major organs until the baby is born and the umbilicus is cut. Brain function as measured by EEG waves has been recorded during this time frame (as early as 45 days). Fingers and elbows are evident. The embryo is 1/2 inch long. Everything is now present that will be found in a fully-formed, developed adult human.

Lower limbs, including toes, are clear on this photo of a seven week embryo at this stage of growth. The 7 wk old embryo now has its own blood type, produced by himself or herself, unique from the mother’s blood type. Also, the circulatory system for blood supply to the brain, which began at week three, is now perfectly formed. Major organs have all begun to form.
In this photo of the entire body of a 7 week old embryo, you can see where the eye is forming, as well as arms, legs, fingers and toes. Actually, the eyes have a retina and a lens. Now the lips are sensitive to touch and ears may resemble family patterns. The long cord that connects the mother’s body to the embryo (“umbilicus,” which goes from the embryo’s tummy to the mother’s placenta) is also visible. This connection is how the embryo gets all the oxygen, circulation, immunity and food he or she needs. As you can see, the facial features are now visible.

Eight Weeks Old

At 8 weeks of age the skeleton is changing from cartilage to bone. A new stage, “Fetus” or “young one” begins when soft cartilage changes to skeletal bone. All systems are present and functioning. As a matter of fact, the fetus is swimming and moving in the amniotic sac (the safe enclosure you can see clearly in this photo).

This photo shows the feet and toes of the fetus. By this time, the lines of her hands and feet are already engraved in the skin. (What many people call, the “Lifelines”.). You can also see the enlarged genitalia. Some people might think this fetus is a male. The truth is, however, that this fetus may be a female OR a male. This is normal, and it is due to hormonal effect on the genitalia of both genders. In time, (sometime between this point of development and 12 weeks), it will become much clearer which gender this fetus truly is. At the end of eight weeks, the fetus  is 1 and 1/8 inches long, with a functioning heart. Forty muscle sets have begun to operate in conjunction with the nervous system. The fetus moves at this point, but it’s too soon for mom to feel this. The 8 wk old fetus is capable of responding to touch at this point.

Eleven Weeks Old

You see toes in this photo. Would you believe that this fetus already has fingernails and toenails? Spontaneous breathing movements are happening. The fetus is now about 2 1/2 inches long and weighs approximately one-half ounce. Other photos at this stage show the fetus as being very expressive- wrinkling his forehead, turning her head, opening and closing their tiny lips.

All body systems are working.

Twelve Weeks Old

We are looking at left and right legs, with feet and toes inside the amniotic sac. The soft, bony limb tissues are continuing to harden (becoming bone), which began in the 8th week of life. Although it’s not pictured here, you may want to know that at this point the fetus has vocal chords which are developing. At this point, the fetus can cry, and actually tries to at times.

Here you see the hand with fingernails. Photos have shown that at this point the fetus can suck their thumbs, since they are able to suck at twelve weeks. At 12 wks, the fetus has its own fingerprints — a unique identity that will define her for the rest of her life.
The fetus will move away if touched and can grasp its fingers around an object. If the palm of the hand is stroked, the fetus will make a tight fist. Other abilities not pictured here are also developing: When all of us were 12 weeks old, we had already perfected a somersault, back flip and scissors kick. This is the last week that abortion by the suction/curretage procedure can be used. A description of this method can be found in our Questions & Answers (QA) section. Click on “How are abortions done?
One author (Dr. Donald DeMarco) explains that all the factors needed for an unborn fetus to feel pain are present as early as 8 weeks of gestation. Because of her level of development after the twelfth week of growth, the abortion procedure an unborn baby must experience is both more complex and more expensive. The abortion method after 12 weeks is called the D&E procedure. (Dilation and Evacuation) Click on: “How are abortions done?” in the Abortion Questions section of this website.

Fourteen Weeks Old

This picture shows the body of the fetus at 14 weeks of growth, inside the protective amniotic sac. At this point, a “young one” can kick spontaneously. Mothers usually report feeling such kicks around 20 weeks ( Some call these kicks “Quickening” or the” feeling of life”).

See how perfectly this foot is formed at only 14 weeks? (3 1/2 months) At this point, the fetus hears and gets hiccups. Her eyelids close if touched, and she moves like an athlete. (She’s very active!) The fetus is about 3 inches long. Some researchers say she looks like a “tiny human doll.”
The ear is “under construction” in this picture. In the next 4 to 6 weeks, this ear will be ready to help this baby connect with her outside world. The first sound the fetus hears is the mother’s heartbeat, and the first voice the fetus hears is her mother’s.  She will be able to recognize her mother’s voice as a newborn, and be comforted by it.
At 14 weeks of age, the heart is formed and beats, on average, 140 beats per minute. This sound can be heard by the mother when the doctor puts a doppler machine on her lower abdomen. The face is a bit hidden in this photo. At 14 weeks, however, the face starts resembling the parents’ faces. Movements are graceful. Smiling has been taking place since week 11. Also, the fetus can urinate at week 11.

Sixteen Weeks Old

The fetus has growth-spurts around this time of the pregnancy. (In a mere 3 weeks, a fetus can start at 4 inches long, at 13 weeks, and grow to 6 inches by 16 weeks! The heart of a 16-week-old fetus pumps 6 gallons of blood every day. Soft little hair covers the body of the fetus now, too.

Here’s another photo of how pretty and formed the face is at 16 weeks (4 months) of life in her mother’s womb. It almost looks as though this fetus is moving her lips….which she is able to do now! Some mothers say they can feel their babies moving this early, but most will need to wait another month before they can actually feel life.

Twenty Weeks Old

At twenty weeks, when the fetus is awake and active, their mothers report, “I just felt the baby!” or, “I just felt life!” In 8 more weeks (28 weeks) the fetus will begin to open and close her eyelids and start to move her eyes to look around. Not only that….the fetus at 28 weeks (7 months) will not only hear, but recognize her mother’s voice. This is an important time to read or sing to your baby. Then, when the fetus is born and she hears your voice, she will know who you are!

Even though this fetus of 20 weeks is living in the womb, a slammed door will cause her to become active. Here’s another fact about her hearing: Studies indicate that at 20 weeks (5 months) the fetus responds to sounds in frequencies too high or too low for adults to hear. Imagine! You and I could hear when we were only 20 weeks old ! (And we heard “better” then, than we can now!)
On average, this 20 week old weighs 9 ounces and, on average, 9 inches long. As you can see, this fetus is complete. All she needs now is food, warmth, oxygen, a safe place to live, and time to grow. Now her hearing is so improved that she can hear music, traffic, TV, and other people’s voices (in addition to her mother’s).In February, 2007, a baby was making headlines in the news. A very little girl was born after spending only 21 weeks and 6 days in her mother’s womb. (This is a few days older than the child in this picture). She surprised the medical world by surviving her premature birth, and is doing quite well. Amilia Taylor is making history because she was mature enough and strong enough to continue to develop following her early delivery. Of course, Amilia needed all the help she’s been given through advanced medical interventions. Her parents are rejoicing. (On a TV interview her Dad said, “Her name means resilient.” In other words, she’s a real fighter!) Amilia measured 9 inches at birth, and weighed 9 1/2 ounces. Babies born under 14 ounces were thought to be unable to survive. The hospital said Amilia Taylor was “healthy and thriving.”