Pregnancy Education

Pregnancy may be entirely new to you, and you may have many questions and concerns about your situation. Our trained volunteers realize that your circumstance is important and unique. We provide the following information so that you can know the facts and make informed decisions.

Development of the Embryo and Fetus

First Trimester

Week 2 – Conception occurs when the sperm penetrates the ovum. The fertilized cell is called a zygote and is smaller than a grain of salt. It contains 23 chromosomes from each parent, resulting in a complex genetic makeup for every feature of human development – the child’s sex, hair color, eye color, height and skin tone.

Week 4 – The embryo may float in the uterus for about 48 hours before implanting itself in the lining of the uterus. The placenta forms.

Week 6 – The embryo is about 1/5-inch long, has a primitive heart, and is developing arms, legs, intestines, a pancreas, lungs and a brain.

Week 10 – The embryo is now about 1-inch long. Cartilage, bones, joints, facial features, limbs, hands, feet, fingers and toes are taking shape. The nervous system is responsive, and several internal organs have started to function. The fetus even has fingerprints.

Week 14 – The 3-inch long fetus weighs about an ounce. Muscles are developing, and movement can be observed. Over the past few weeks, sex organs, hair and eyelids have been forming. The fetus is producing hormones and may be able to suck his thumb.

Second Trimester

Week 18 – The fetus is approximately 5 inches long and has fine hair on his head and body. Fingernails, toenails and eyebrows have been growing. The fetus can blink and has developed vocal cords. He can also breathe, and his skeleton has been changing from cartilage to bone.

Week 22 – At nearly a pound, the fetus now has skin that has changed from transparent to opaque. Nerve cells for the senses have been developing. The fetus can hear noises outside of the womb.

Week 26 – The fetus’ eyes are fully developed and can blink, and taste buds have started to form. Sweat glands have been developing, and spine structures have begun to form. The fetus can breathe and cry, and has a more than 50% chance of living outside of the womb.

Third Trimester

Week 30 – The nearly 3-pound fetus could survive outside of the womb, and would be “premature” if born at this point. He can produce tears and has been accumulating fat under the skin.

Week 36 – The baby’s five senses are intact. She can blink and has fully developed kidneys.

Week 40 – The child has a firm grasp, has grown significantly, and is now prepared for life outside of the womb.

Photos appearing on this page are reproduced under "fair use" terms for the purpose of public education.
Primarily adapted from:
Additional sources:
The First Nine Months, Focus on the Family, 1999

Pregnancy Education - Abortion Methods

Medical Abortions

Morning After Pill (MAP)
Within 72 hours of sexual intercourse
Also known as "Emergency Contraception," this procedure consists of a pregnancy test and two doses of pills. The woman first must take a pregnancy test and receive a negative test result before taking the pills. If a negative test result occurs from the pregnancy test, then the woman is instructed to take the first dose of the Morning After Pill. Note: a negative result indicates that the woman is probably not pregnant from intercourse during her previous monthly cycle, but it will not show whether or not she just became pregnant (from intercourse the "night before"). She is instructed to take this first dose as soon as possible, but not more than 72 hours after intercourse. The woman takes a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If conception already occurred within the 72 hour time frame (that is the "night before"), the life is expelled. This is an early abortion.

RU486, Mifepristone
Within 4 to 7 weeks after LMP
Also known as the Abortion Pill, this medical abortion is used up to 49 days after their last menstrual period. This procedure usually requires three office visits. The RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman who returns two days later for a second medication called misoprostol. The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.

Abortion Procedures

Early (Manual) Vacuum Aspiration
Within 7 weeks after LMP
This surgical abortion is done early in the pregnancy up until 7 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period. The cervical muscle is stretched with dilators (metal rods) until the opening is wide enough to allow the abortion instruments to pass into the uterus. A hand held syringe is attached to tubing that is inserted into the uterus and the fetus is suctioned out.

Suction Curettage (Dilatation and Curettage (D & C))
Within 6 to 14 weeks after LMP
In this procedure, the doctor opens the cervix with a dilator (a metal rod) or laminaria (thin sticks derived from plants and inserted several hours before the procedure). The doctor inserts tubing into the uterus and connects the tubing to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. One variation of this procedure is called Dilation and Curettage (D&C). In this method, the doctor may use a curette, a loop-shaped knife, to scrape the fetal parts out of the uterus.

Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E)
Within 13 to 24 weeks after LMP
This surgical abortion is done during the second trimester of pregnancy. Because the developing fetus doubles in size between the eleventh and twelfth weeks of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is too large to be broken up by suction and will not pass through the suction tubing. In this procedure, the cervix must be opened wider than in a first trimester abortion. This is done by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion. After opening the cervix, the doctor pulls out the fetal parts with forceps. The fetus' skull is crushed to ease removal.

Dilatation and Extraction (D&X)
From within 20 weeks after LMP to full-term
Also known as Partial-birth Abortion, this procedure takes three days. During the first two days, the cervix is dilated and medication is given for cramping. On the third day, the woman receives medication to start labor. After labor begins, the abortion doctor uses ultrasound to locate the baby's legs. Grasping a leg with forceps, the doctor delivers the baby up to the baby's head. Next, scissors are inserted into the base of the skull to create an opening. A suction catheter is placed into the opening to remove the skull contents. The skull collapses and the baby is removed.

Potential Risks

These medical abortions and abortion procedures have potential risks and complications, including heavy bleeding, infection, incomplete abortion, tearing of the cervix and perforation of the uterus, among others. Some of these complications have potential long-term effects, including problems with future pregnancies.

Primarily adapted from:

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