Prenatal development

Many of you, after rejoicing in the news you will become parents, immediately begin to wonder how the baby is developing, what is going on in the womb, and can you do everything you have done before? Through the following text, we will try to bring you a few basic pieces of information regarding child development. 

First of all, a few words in general about prenatal development. Prenatal development is a development from conception to birth. During 9 months from a small cell, a new-born develops that weighs an average of 3 kg and is approximately 50 cm in length. Within prenatal development, we distinguish three periods: zygote, embryo, and foetus

A zygote is the first phase that lasts two weeks: 10-14 days from conception, until a zygote is “placed” into the uterus. More precisely, a zygote is a cell formed by the fusion of sperm and egg cell.

The second phase lasts from the 2nd to the 8th week and is called an embryo. In this phase, organogenesis takes place, i.e. accelerated development, parts begin to take the form of individual organs – head, legs, heart. This is the most sensitive phase with regard to adverse effects (alcohol, medicines etc.). 

The last stage of prenatal development is a foetus. It lasts from the 8th week until birth. 

During prenatal development, the placenta allows the development of the embryo and foetus through the blood vessels that carry food and oxygen so that virtually everything the mother eats, drinks, or inhales can be transmitted to the baby through the placenta. Furthermore, prenatal development is affected by maternal diseases (for example syphilis, chickenpox, rubella etc.), radiation, diet, medications (aspirin, antibiotics etc.).

Drinking alcohol is very risky and can have dire consequences for a child’s development. Smaller amounts of alcohol can cause neurological disorders in the baby, while large amounts can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome. The consequences of foetal alcohol syndrome can be manifested through a variety of physical problems, behavioural and learning problems. 

Smoking during pregnancy prevents the delivery of sufficient oxygen to the baby, thus increasing the risk of miscarriage. In addition, smoking can cause lower birth weight in a baby. 

Emotional states and stress significantly affect the child because the child receives oxygen and food through the placenta and umbilical cord, and if the mother is angry, for example, then her blood goes to the peripheral parts of the body – the child is less supplied with oxygen. 

 „Can a baby remember something from the prenatal period?“ is a question we have all asked ourselves at least once. There are attempts to answer this question through the statements of some children, but such attempts can hardly be scientifically controlled. What is certain is that a foetus’s ability to remember increases over time. Recognition of events from the prenatal period is expressed by the child’s behaviour, immediately after birth. For example, the foetus remembers the rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat, so the absence of these beating sounds causes discomfort. In addition to the mother’s voice, a foetus remembers the bodily touch (when the father and mother touch the abdomen). 

“Can a child still understand words while in the womb?” – the answer to that question is no. However, a child can understand if the sounds it hears represent something soothing, stressful, or friendly. After a brief re-examination of the voice, a child classifies the sounds as positive or negative and responds accordingly by accepting help or crying.