Parenting - §130.247. Child Development

Prenatal Care and Development

(2) The student investigates components of optimal prenatal care and development. The student is expected to:

(A) identify signs and stages of pregnancy;
(B) analyze environmental and hereditary factors affecting fetal development such as Mendel's Laws of Inheritance, genetics, and substances and how they affect the developing child and prenatal brain development;
(C) describe nutritional needs prior to and during pregnancy such as impact of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates on fetal brain development;
(D) analyze reasons for medical care and good health practices prior to and during pregnancy;
(E) critique technological advances on prenatal care and development such as sound waves used for sonograms, amniocentesis, and alpha-fetoprotein test; and
(F) analyze the process of labor and delivery.

Pregnancy Week by Week:

Identify Signs and Stages of Pregnancy

Signs of Pregnancy:

Stages of Pregnancy:

First Trimester

During the first trimester your body undergoes many changes. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in your body. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy. Your period stopping is a clear sign that you are pregnant. Other changes may include:

As your body changes, you might need to make changes to your daily routine, such as going to bed earlier or eating frequent, small meals. Fortunately, most of these discomforts will go away as your pregnancy progresses. And some women might not feel any discomfort at all! If you have been pregnant before, you might feel differently this time around. Just as each woman is different, so is each pregnancy.

Second Trimester

Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. But it is just as important to stay informed about your pregnancy during these months. You might notice that symptoms like nausea and fatigue are going away. But other new, more noticeable changes to your body are now happening. Your abdomen will expand as the baby continues to grow. And before this trimester is over, you will feel your baby beginning to move! As your body changes to make room for your growing baby, you may have:

Third Trimester

Some of the same discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Plus, many women find breathing difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom even more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on your organs. Don't worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you give birth. Some new body changes you might notice in the third trimester include:

As you near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date.

Source: American Pregnancy Association

Fetal Development:

Stages of Human Development

Fetal Development:

Overview of Fetal Development from Conception to Birth:

Analyze Environmental and Hereditary Factors Affecting Fetal Development Such as Mendel's Laws of Inheritance, Genetics, and Substances and How they Affect the Developing Child and Prenatal Brain Development

If there is any chance a woman could become pregnant, planned or not, she should avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs. These can also cause birth defects. Too much alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Teratogens is the name given to substances that cause birth defects. Even some prescription and over-the-counter meds, herbs, and supplements may be harmful. Certain viruses early in pregnancy also cause birth defects or spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Smoking causes the placenta and umbilical cord to become brittle.

Genetic disorders can put your baby at risk for slow mental and physical development, physical defects, and lifelong illnesses. Genetic disorders are physical defects or illnesses that are caused by problems in your body's genetic code. Everybody is made up of 46 chromosomes, and these chromosomes carry your DNA. DNA is responsible for dictating how you will look, act, and develop. When a baby is conceived, he receives 23 chromosomes from his mother and 23 chromosomes from his father. These chromosomes come together to complete an entire genetic code. Sometimes, however, defects can occur in some of the chromosomes or individual genes. As a result fetal development can change, and your baby can be born with a genetic disorder.


Read about Mendel's Laws of Genetic Inheritance at or view the activity below.

Downloaded from Teachers' Domain,
©2007 WGBH Educational Foundation. Adapted from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Dolan DNA Learning Center. All rights reserved.
This media asset was adapted from Genetic inheritance follows rules. by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Dolan DNA Learning Center.
Teachers' Domain Collection funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Read How Genetic Disorders Are Inherited

Downloaded from Teachers' Domain,
From Blazing a Genetic Trail, ©1991 HHMI. Reprinted by permission.
Teachers' Domain Collection funded by National Science Foundation

Suggested Readings

Effects of nutrition and environmental factors on the fetal programming of the reproductive axis by SM Rhind, MT Rae, and AN Brooks

How do environmental influences affect fetal development?

Describe Nutritional Needs Prior to and During Pregnancy Such as Impact of Proteins, Lipids, and Carbohydrates on Fetal Brain Development

Nutrition during pregnancy provides an important foundation for an individual’s health. Many significant changes take place physiologically and the mother’s nutrition before pregnancy has a bearing on how healthy the baby will be at birth. In fact, peak physical and intellectual potential as an adult is in part determined by nutrition during pregnancy and infancy. The placenta is the only organ in the body that is made new each time it is needed. Because the placenta is formed by the fourth week of life, and is the organ where nutrients and wastes are exchanged, the healthier the placenta, the better it can function.

Many people don’t realize they are pregnant for a few months, however, before the first menstrual period is missed, some very significant birth defects due to nutritional deficiencies occur. No matter how well the woman eats after that, it’s too late to correct the problems. For example, inadequate folate leads to neural tube defects (failure of the spinal cord to close, also called spina bifida). High blood glucose in undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes can cause birth defects or death.


Analyze Reasons for Medical Care and Good Health Practices Prior to and During Pregnancy

If there is any chance a woman could become pregnant, planned or not, she should avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs. These can also cause birth defects. Too much alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Teratogens is the name given to substances that cause birth defects. Even some prescription and over-the-counter meds, herbs, and supplements may be harmful. Certain viruses early in pregnancy also cause birth defects or spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Smoking causes the placenta and umbilical cord to become brittle.

As for the mother, an optimal weight prior to pregnancy and throughout will give her the greatest chance of having an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. She is likely to avoid prolonged labor and/ or cesarean delivery if her BMI is between 19.8 and 26.0. In addition, she is less likely to develop gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). The rate of miscarriage and stillbirth is about 22% in the U.S. Some things are beyond our control and even those who try to do everything right can have problems, but why take unnecessary chances?

A man’s nutrition and activities are important as well for healthy sperm production. Alcohol consumption causes a reduction in the number and motility of sperm. Certain prescription and illegal drugs can have the same effect.


Critique Technological Advances on Prenatal Care and Development Such as Sound Waves Used for Sonograms, Amniocentesis, and Alpha-Fetoprotein Test

Because the sonogram uses sound waves and not radiation, it's completely safe. In addition, a sonogram can offer details X-rays can't. It's painless and in just about every case, the person receiving the sonogram will not be inconvenienced or made to feel uncomfortable in any way. Even more important, the sonogram is safe for the unborn child. Thanks to a sonogram, doctors can discover a tubal pregnancy early and take the proper measures to ensure the mother's safety. An ultrasound exam is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a woman's abdomen and pelvic cavity, creating a picture (sonogram) of the baby and placenta. Although the terms ultrasound and sonogram are technically different, they are used interchangeably and reference the same exam. The ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure that, when used properly, has not demonstrated fetal harm. The long term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. It is recommended that ultrasound only be used if medically indicated.

Amniocentesis is a diagnostic test that may be recommended by a health care provider following an abnormal triple test result. It is a procedure used to diagnose fetal defects in the early second trimester of pregnancy. Inherited or genetic concerns lead some parents to choose amniocentesis to determine if specific genetic disorders may be present in their baby. An ultrasound is used as a guide to determine a safe location for the needle to enter the amniotic sac so the fluid may be safely removed. A sample of amniotic fluid is collected through the needle. The procedure takes about 45 minutes, although the collection of fluid takes less than five minutes. The amniotic fluid, which contains cells shed by the fetus, is sent to the laboratory for analysis. Results can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks to be returned. A sample of the amniotic fluid, which surrounds a fetus in the womb, is collected through a pregnant woman's abdomen using a needle and syringe. Tests performed on fetal cells found in the sample can reveal the presence of many types of genetic disorders, thus allowing doctors and prospective parents to make important decisions about early treatment and intervention.

An alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test checks the level of AFP in a pregnant woman's blood. This is not a diagnostic test. It is often part of the triple screen test that assesses whether further diagnostic testing may be needed. Blood is drawn from veins in the mother's arm and sent off to a laboratory for analysis. AFP is a substance made in the liver of an unborn baby ( fetus). The amount of AFP in the blood of a pregnant woman can help see whether the baby may have such problems as spina bifida and anencephaly. An AFP test can also be done as part of a screening test to find other chromosomal problems, such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21) or Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18). An AFP test can help find an omphalocele, a congenital problem in which some of the baby's intestines stick out through the belly wall.

Sources: WebMD,, American Pregnancy Association


Analyze the Process of Labor and Delivery

Childbirth (also called labour, birth, partus or parturition) is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus. The process of normal human childbirth is categorized in three stages of labour: the shortening and dilation of the cervix, descent and birth of the infant, and birth of the placenta.[1] In many cases, with an increasing rate of frequency, childbirth is achieved through caesarean section, the removal of the neonate through a surgical incision in the abdomen, rather than through vaginal birth.[2] In the US and Canada it represents nearly 1 in 3 (31.8%) and 1 in 4 (22.5%) of all childbirths, respectively.[2][3]

1. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright 2006 Columbia University Press.
3. CTV News on caesarean sections

A newborn baby with umbilical cord ready to be clampedBecause humans are bipedal with an erect stance and have, in relation to the size of the pelvis, the biggest head of any mammalian species, human fetuses and human female pelvises are adapted to make birth possible.

The erect posture causes the weight of the abdominal contents to thrust on the pelvic floor, a complex structure which must not only support this weight but allow three channels to pass through it: the urethra, the vagina and the rectum. The relatively large head and shoulders require a specific sequence of maneuvers to occur for the bony head and shoulders to pass through the bony ring of the pelvis. A failure of these maneuvers results in a longer and more painful labor and can even arrest labor entirely. All changes in the soft tissues of the cervix and the birth canal are entirely dependent on the successful completion of these six maneuvers:

1. Engagement of the fetal head in the transverse position. The baby is looking across the pelvis at one or other of the mother's hips.
2. Descent and flexion of the fetal head
3. Internal rotation. The fetal head rotates 90 degrees to the occipito-anterior position so that the baby's face is towards the mother's rectum.
4. Delivery by extension. The fetal head passes out of the birth canal. Its head is tilted backwards so that its forehead leads the way through the vagina.
5. Restitution. The fetal head turns through 45 degrees to restore its normal relationship with the shoulders, which are still at an angle.
6. External rotation. The shoulders repeat the corkscrew movements of the head, which can be seen in the final movements of the fetal head.

The fetal head may temporarily change shape substantially (becoming more elongated) as it moves through the birth canal. This change in the shape of the fetal head is called molding and is much more prominent in women having their first vaginal delivery.

Source: Healthline > Types of Forceps Used in Delivery February 2006. Reviewer: Douglas Levine, Gynecology Service/Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.

Suggested Readings



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