Fetal Development

The development of a life from day 1 to week 40.


Day 1 – Week 2

At conception, the sperm joins with the ovum (egg) to form one cell that contains the complex genetic blueprint for every detail of human development. At this point the child’s sex, hair and eye color, height, and skin tone are already decided.

Week 4

The embryo’s heart has been beating for one week already. The beginning of the spinal cord, muscles, and nerves become apparent. Arms, legs, eyes and ears can now be seen. The amniotic sac and placenta are in place and providing nourishment to the embryo.

Week 6

The eyes begin to form and the extremities can be seen in much more detail, including all ten fingers. The embryo is now moving and responds to touch.

 3-Fig 20a-embryo-7 weeks fert - 9 weeks gest
Week 10

At the 9th week the embryo is now considered a fetus. The fetus is able to grasp and can suck his thumb. Fingerprints are already visible in the skin. In addition to being able to sense touch, the fetus can now feel pain. At week 12, the fetus sleeps and awakens.

5-Fig 16a-embryo-8 weeks fert - 10 weeks gest
Week 14

The fetus is growing very rapidly at this point. The mother can now feel energetic movement, and hair is visible on the scalp. Gender becomes apparent by week 13.

 6-Fig 2a-feet-11 weeks fert - 13 weeks gest
Week 18

The ears are now functioning and the baby can hear his or her mother’s voice. By the end of the 4th month, the fetus weighs a half pound or more and is eight to ten inches in length.

 17-Fig 3a-face-5 mos fert - 5.5 months gest

Week 22

The head of the fetus now accounts for 1/3 of her length. If this baby were to be born prematurely, she has a chance of survival with intensive medical care.

 18-Fig 4a-ear-5 mos fert - 5.5 months gest

Week 26

The tongue has formed taste buds and the eyes have fully developed. The baby’s lungs are completely functioning and he can even cry.

 20-Fig 7a-face-6 mos fert - 6.5 months gest

Week 30

Vision, hearing, taste, and touch are all being used now. The baby opens and closes her eyes and looks around. Research shows that the child can recognize her mother’s voice.

Week 40

The baby is now ready for life outside of his mother’s womb. By this time, the infant usually weighs six to nine pounds, and his heart is pumping 300 gallons of blood per day.



  • Images: (C) 1998, Fundacja Zrodlo Zaklad Wychowawca. Nonprofit use only. From The Development of the Preborn Child CD, (C) 2006, 2014 Focus on the Family.
  • A Child Is Born (also in paperback) (book), Lennart Nilsson, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1990. Order from Amazon.com.
  • Nine Month Miracle (CD ROM software), A.D.A.M. Software, Inc., 1600 RiverEdge Parkway, Suite 800, Atlanta, GA, 30328.
  • The First Nine Months of Life, (brochure), Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO, 1995.
  • Introduction to Child Development, 6th ed., (text book) John Dworetzky, West Publishing Company, San Francisco, CA, 1996.
  • Psychology Today, (magazine) “Fetal Psychology,” Janet L. Hopson, October 1998.
  • When You were Formed in Secret, (handbook) Gary Bergel, Intercessors for America, 1988.


Also see “A Child Is Born” on Amazon.com.