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Fetal Development Week by Week

Updated on September 18, 2014

Getting pregnant and having a baby can be a magical time in any couple's life. During this time many parents wonder what is happening to their little one throughout the pregnancy. From Conception through birth is normally about nine months or 41 weeks. Each pregnancy is different and some last a little less or a little more. Anything after about 36 weeks is considered full term. Each week of development throughout the pregnancy brings exciting new changes in the new little baby.

Early Weeks of Pregnancy

During the early weeks of pregnancy most mother's don't even realize they are pregnant. From the moment of conception, however, mom's body is starting to change and adapt to help the new baby develop. Once the egg is fertilized it will almost immediately begin the process of growing. During this time the fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus. Fetal development within the uterus continues week by week as it starts rapidly growing.

Good News Arrive

After about four weeks your baby is considered an embryo and has two layers of cells from which all the organs and body parts will develop. Each cell in the embryo is beginning to grow into the body part it will be forever. The baby is still extremely small but by this time many mothers will have taken a pregnancy test and found out about the good news!

Pregnancy Weeks 8 - 17

As the pregnancy continues on the baby gets to about the size of a chili or kidney bean at about two months. It has tiny little webbed fingers growing during the second month. After around three months the tiny little fingers have unique fingerprints already in place. This exciting time continues into the 17th week where baby's small skeleton begins to harden into bone from cartilage and the little one weighs only about five ounces!

Pregnancy Weeks 21- 30

By around week 21 of fetal development the baby has eyebrows and eyelids in place. The baby may be more than 10 inches long if he stretched his legs, though he normally keeps them tucked up by the stomach. By week 25 or 26 a baby will begin to put on a little 'baby fat' and continues to grow. By now the baby may be about a pound and a half. Around week 30 your baby will be able to open and close his eyes and even follow a light. By this time almost all mom's are clearly showing their 'baby bump' as well.

Just Before Giving Birth

Fetal development continues week by week through weeks 34 -37 by mostly gaining weight and finishing developing the lungs. At some point in this period the baby is ready to be born healthy but typically remain in mom for four or five more weeks to gain weight and get stronger. By weeks 38-41 the baby is fully developed and normally around 19 inches long. Most babies at this time weigh about 7 pounds and can be born any time while considered 'full term'.


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