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The Earliest Stages Of Fetal Development

How developed is my baby by the time I find out I'm pregnant?

That's a question many pregnancy counselors have been asked throughout the years. Simply put, your baby is completely developed by the time you discover the pregnancy. In fact, the day you conceive is the day your baby is complete. At that point, all it takes is unimaginable amounts of energy to grow, and time - 40 weeks, to be precise - for the baby to be ready to make his or her grand debut into the outside world.

At conception, the baby is a one-cell being smaller than a grain of sand. But don't let size fool you - he or she contains every bit the DNA that we adults do. At this earliest stage of development, your baby already has her mom's curly strawberry blonde hair, hazel eyes, and slender figure, or cappuccino skin, his dad's muscular physique, and crystal blue eyes. In short, it's all there; it's just waiting to grow.

By the time you discover you're pregnant you will likely be anywhere from 4-6 weeks along, according to traditional obstetricians' pregnancy calendars. This means your baby will already have a heartbeat, or very soon be developing one. The brain, spinal cord, and nervous system are already well on their way to being fully developed. Muscles are forming, along with legs, arms, eyes, and ears.

An ultrasound at this point (about 6 weeks) will show a kidney bean-shaped figure with very short arms and legs, tiny dark circles where the eyes are, and most fascinating - a bright pulsating dot where the heart is.

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