“I too am a mortal man, the same as all the rest, and a descendant of the first man formed on earth. And in my mother’s womb I was molded into flesh, in a ten-months’ period – body and blood, from the seed of man, and the pleasure that accompanies marriage. And I, too, when born, inhaled the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth; wailing. I uttered that first sound common to all. In swaddling clothes and with constant care I was nurtured. For no king has any different origin or birth, but one is the entry into life for all; and in one same way they leave it.”
“Hurry up, Nanay. I want to see my baby sister,” said little Jess as he stopped at the glass door. His parents, Maria and Jose walked not far behind, holding each other’s hands.
“We’re coming, my sweetheart,” Maria said. Jose pushed the glass door open and Jess hurried past his parents. At the counter Jose said, “My wife, Maria Dela Cruz, has an appointment for ultrasound today.”
After checking the computer, the nurse said, “Please follow me.”
She motioned Maria to approach the bed and lie down. She covered Maria’s thighs and legs with a white blanket and said, “Dr. Maricel Tan will be here in a minute.”
Jess asked, “Nanay, what is that?” pointing to a picture on the wall. Maria replied, “That’s the ultrasound picture of a baby.” Jess said, “It does not look like a baby.”
The fate of the human person starts from conception, not just after birth. It begins with the union of a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg, also called fertilization, to form a single cell embryo. This brand-new being gets half of the traits from the mother and the other half from the father but still bears a unique and complete genetic code that determines the person’s sex, eye color, hair texture and other characteristics.
What really happens before a child is born?
The heart is the first organ to develop at 17 days. It marks the start of the development of all other internal organs like the brain, spinal cord, liver and gall bladder at 18 days. The kidneys develop at 22 days while the somites, the lungs and undifferentiated sex organs are first formed at about 25 days. The pancreas and the thyroid gland first develop at 30 days and 33 days, respectively.
From the fourth week onwards, the embryo becomes distinctly human. Then the heart starts to beat at five weeks and eventually pumps blood to the brain and body at six weeks. The baby’s brainwaves have been measured and recorded at about eight weeks. The baby inside the womb starts to make a tight fist, swallow, squint and turns her neck at about its ninth to tenth weeks. The baby’s kidneys begin to produce and release urine by 10 weeks. Scientific experts estimate that the 10-week embryo already possesses about 90 percent of the adult body parts. After 10 weeks, the embryo becomes a fetus. Further changes occur in the baby’s body during the subsequent weeks of life which are centered on growth and refining the different functions of the body parts. It is during these critical periods of development in a baby’s life that the exposure to any potential hazard can affect the outcome of pregnancy and the future health of the individual.
Once conceived, the unborn child becomes a human being and not just a blood clot, even if it is not yet visible to the naked eye. It divides, grows and develops from a one-cell fertilized ovum or zygote to a multiple- cell being who will eventually become a person in God’s perfect time.
The baby inside your womb is like a seed planted on good soil. It starts to grow roots that will take nourishment for its growth and development. If it receives the right food, has enough space to grow, is not exposed to unsafe environment, and its unhealthy genes are not turned on, it will be born at the right time and in good health.
Excerpt from "Your Newborn Is a Blessing (A Guide to Your Baby's Health from Conception to Birth)."
Available at www.feastbooks.ph