Fetal Development

Not open for debate is the fact that our lives began long before birth—at the moment of fertilization. The following is a description of the first months of life. All of these facts are recognized in both biology and medical texts. How much do you know about your own beginnings?



Sperm fertilizes egg


The new life, starting as just one cell, eventually implants in lining of uterus


2 Weeks

Heart beats at 21 days


Foundation laid for brain and spinal cord


4 Weeks

Brain and spinal cord begin to form


Length is less than 1 inch


6 Weeks

Lungs are beginning to form


Eyes and nostrils are visible


Taste buds and teeth are beginning to develop


Brain activity recorded at 45 days


8 Weeks

8 Weeks

Fingers have grown and separated, toes are now visible


Facial features—eyes, nose, lips, and tongue—continue to develop


Each minute the brain develops as many as 250,000 new neurons


Unborn child is now called a fetus (Latin for offspring), rather than an embryo


10 Weeks

Fingernails are beginning to form


Kidneys are developing and can produce urine


12 Weeks

All major body parts and organs are present


Heartbeat can be heard with electronic devices


Bones are beginning to harden


14 Weeks

14 Weeks

Mouth makes sucking motions


Spleen begins producing red blood cells


Hair pattern on head develops


16 Weeks

Movement may be felt by the mother


The unborn child can suck her thumb


Taste buds are present and functioning


18 Weeks

Arms and legs begin to punch and kick


Fingernails are well formed


Uterus begins to form if it’s a girl


Length is about 10 inches head to heel


20 Weeks

20 Weeks

Experts say she can feel pain


Swallowing begins


Can turn body side to side and front to back


Babies born at this time may be able to survive (21+ weeks gestation)


22 Weeks

Rapid brain growth continues


Weight is about one pound


24 Weeks

Outside sounds can be heard


Actions such as hiccuping, squinting, smiling, and frowning may be seen through ultrasound


26 Weeks

Sleep patterns exist and rapid eye movement indicates dreaming may occur


Eyelids reopen after being closed for months


Muscles exercise by kicking and stretching


28 Weeks

Central nervous system is developed enough to control some major body functions


Another person might hear a heartbeat by listening to the pregnant woman’s abdomen


30 Weeks

Rhythmic breathing movements start to occur


Mom’s voice and other familiar sounds may be recognized


Bones are fully developed, but still soft and pliable


32 Weeks

Pupils can dilate and constrict in dim or bright light


Connections between the nerve cells in the brain have increased


34 Weeks

Weight is about 4 to 4.5 pounds


36 Weeks

Body fat increasing rapidly


Head may soon start repositioning down in preparation for birth


38 Weeks

A newborn is considered full-term 38 weeks after fertilization (40 weeks of pregnancy)


The unborn child can grasp firmly


Fetal Development Poster
A full-color fetal development poster is available in our online store. It lists weekly facts from this page, and includes beautiful intrauterine photos and drawings. The poster is 18″ x 21.5,” sturdy and durable for display against a wall or on an easel. Help educate others about the amazing facts of life.

Purchase poster

Cruel and Usual Punishment Presentation
Cruel and Usual Punishment is a free PowerPoint presentation that contrasts the wonder of fetal development with the brutality of abortion. The presentation does not utilize any graphic abortion photos but does provide detailed descriptions of abortion procedures used and compares them with detailed facts about fetal development.

Download the PowerPoint
View the script

Fetal Pain
Is an abortion painful for the baby? The latest research shows unborn children have the capacity to feel pain at 20 weeks of pregnancy, and perhaps even as early as 12 weeks. However, pain is a subjective experience, so how do we know? We know because of the unborn child’s anatomy, and the unborn child’s observed reaction to pain.

Fetal pain brochure
Learn more