Fetus Growth: Understanding the Stages of Development

From the moment of conception, a fertilized egg begins to grow and develop into a human being. The process of fetal growth is fascinating, and it’s important for expectant parents to understand these stages of development. In this article, we will explore the various phases of fetal growth and what to expect during each stage.

pregnancy test

Weeks 1-4: Conception to Implantation

The first few weeks of fetal growth are critical. During this time, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and implants itself in the uterine lining. The cells begin to divide rapidly, and the embryo begins to take shape. By the end of week four, the embryo is about the size of a poppy seed.


Weeks 5-8: Major Organs Form

The embryo continues to grow rapidly during weeks five to eight. Major organs begin to form, and the heart begins to beat. The embryo is now referred to as a fetus, and it’s about the size of a grape. By the end of week eight, all major organs have formed, and the fetus is about an inch long.

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fetus week 8

Weeks 9-12: Fingers and Toes Develop

During weeks nine to twelve, the fetus begins to look more like a baby. Fingers and toes develop, and the fetus can make small movements. The nervous system also begins to function, and the fetus can feel touch. At the end of week twelve, the fetus is about two and a half inches long.

fetus week 12

Weeks 13-16: Gender Can Be Determined

During weeks thirteen to sixteen, the fetus continues to grow rapidly. The gender of the baby can be determined through ultrasound, and the fetus can hear sounds from outside the womb. By the end of week sixteen, the fetus is about four and a half inches long.

fetus week 16

Weeks 17-20: Hair and Eyebrows Grow

During weeks seventeen to twenty, the fetus continues to grow and develop. Hair and eyebrows begin to grow, and the skin becomes less transparent. The fetus can also suck its thumb and make facial expressions. By the end of week twenty, the fetus is about ten inches long.

fetus week 20

Weeks 21-24: Eyes Open

During weeks twenty-one to twenty-four, the fetus begins to develop more defined features. The eyes open, and the baby can see light. The lungs also begin to develop, preparing the baby for breathing air. By the end of week twenty-four, the fetus is about a foot long.

fetus week 24

Weeks 25-28: Brain Development Continues

During weeks twenty-five to twenty-eight, the fetus continues to grow and develop. The brain continues to develop, and the baby can recognize voices. The fetus also begins to gain weight rapidly. By the end of week twenty-eight, the fetus is about fourteen inches long.

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fetus week 28

Weeks 29-32: Body Fat Increases

During weeks twenty-nine to thirty-two, the fetus begins to develop more body fat, which will help regulate body temperature after birth. The baby can also move more easily, and it’s common for mothers to feel frequent kicks and movements. By the end of week thirty-two, the fetus is about sixteen inches long.

fetus week 32

Weeks 33-36: Final Preparations

During weeks thirty-three to thirty-six, the fetus is making final preparations for birth. The lungs are almost fully developed, and the baby can open and close its eyes. It’s common for the baby to be in a head-down position by the end of week thirty-six. The fetus is about eighteen inches long at this stage.

fetus week 36

Weeks 37-40: Ready for Birth

During weeks thirty-seven to forty, the fetus is considered full-term and ready for birth. The baby continues to grow and gain weight, and it’s common for mothers to experience contractions and other signs of labor. By the end of week forty, the fetus is about twenty inches long, and it’s time to welcome the newest member of the family into the world.

fetus week 40


The process of fetal growth is truly amazing. From a fertilized egg to a fully formed baby, the stages of development are nothing short of miraculous. By understanding these stages, expectant parents can better prepare for the arrival of their little one and appreciate the journey that brought them to this point.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is fetal growth?

Fetal growth refers to the stages of development that a fetus goes through during pregnancy.

When does fetal growth begin?

Fetal growth begins at conception, when a sperm fertilizes an egg.

How long does fetal growth last?

Fetal growth lasts approximately 40 weeks or nine months.

What can affect fetal growth?

Fetal growth can be affected by factors such as maternal health, nutrition, and exposure to toxins.

What can I do to support fetal growth during pregnancy?

Eating a healthy diet, getting regular prenatal care, and avoiding harmful substances can all support fetal growth during pregnancy.

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