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The Stages of Prenatal Development


One of the fascinating processes in nature is prenatal development which lasts nine months from the moment of conception to the actual birth. During this time, the fertilized egg evolves into an embryo and later into a fetus. There are a total of three stages of prenatal development, and the purpose of this paper is to outline what happens during each one of them.

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The Three Stages

The germinal stage starts at the moment an egg is fertilized inside the mother’s body and becomes a zygote. Then this cell begins to “grow through cell division” and move towards the uterus, which is the most critical part of this period (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016, p. 54). This process spans two weeks and ends when the zygote is implanted in the female reproductive organ, has become an embryo.

The embryonic stage lasts from the third to the eighth week of pregnancy. The most critical part of this phase is the development of “body structures and internal organs,” including the neural tube, which later becomes the central nervous system of the baby (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2016, p. 55). Additionally, during this timeframe, the embryo starts resembling an infant due to the forming of the head, legs, and arms.

The fetal stage commences right after the embryonic one and ends with the birth of a baby, which makes it the longest phase in prenatal development. During this time, the fetus needs to be in constant motion as that helps strengthen the body structures and internal organs. Overall, the fetal phase prepares the infant for a life outside of their mother.

Possible Risks

Several risks can harm the fetus. Firstly, the mother needs to pay attention to habits as bad nutrition, drinking alcohol, and drug abuse are detrimental to the baby’s health as well. Second of all, it is vital to make sure that the parent leads a stress-free lifestyle to lower the chances of giving birth to an irritable baby.


It is fascinating to see how in the span of nine months, a fertilized egg becomes a fetus that is ready to enter the world. It is particularly interesting to observe how well-planned prenatal development is with each stage building the vital organs and body structures. However, one needs to consider the possible risks that can harm the fetus at every point of the pregnancy.


Kail, R.V., & Cavanaugh, J.C. (2016). Human development: A life-span view. Cengage.

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