1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

How Your Baby Grows

Fetal Development


Updated May 27, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Pregnancy Ultra-Sound.
Tim Hale/Stone/Getty Images
African American Couple hugging
Photo © George Doyle/Getty Images
Early Pregnancy
Photo © StockByte/Getty Images

Pregnancy Overviews:

The amount of growth both physically and emotionally in pregnancy is vast and rapid. There are many ways to watch a pregnancy proceed. Some prefer to look at pregnancy from the standpoint of the three trimesters, while others enjoy a pregnancy week by week format. For those that want a middle ground, there is also a monthly view of pregnancy. Each has the basics to more in depth coverage of both fetal development and how the changes occur in the mother's body.

Fetal Development:

Pregnancy is amazing to go from being a couple of cells to a total, albeit small, human being in the period of about nine months! Most people enjoy tracking their baby's developments during pregnancy. There are many ways to peak into the uterus during this time. Sometimes your doctor or midwife will order an ultrasound exam or genetic testing like an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). You may also enjoy reading about your baby's growth.

Is your baby a girl or a boy?:

One of the burning questions on the mind of parents everywhere is whether or not there baby is a girl or a boy. This can be told using the ultrasound or genetic testing discussed above. Genetic testing can be done as early as the first trimester, but an anatomy ultrasound can done between 15-22 weeks of pregnancy.

It is really important to undertand that babies grow at different rates. Earlier in pregnancy, babies tend to all be very similar in size, but after twenty weeks gestation, your genes take over. This is where you may see more difference because mom and dad are tall, etc. This means that there is more variation.

While it is natural to want to compare the size of your baby to someone else's the tools we have to estimate size are not always the best predictors. Using Leopold's, where your doctor or midwife guesses baby's size and positon by palpating your abdomen, can be off. While you might assume this because it is a low tech techniques, ultrasound doesn't always fair well either. Some studies show that it can be off up to a pount difference in either direction, high or low.

A better indicator of your baby's growth may be the measuring of your fundal height, done at every prenatal appointment in the later half of pregnancy. This compares your baby's growth with your previous visits. This may provide more information for you and your practitioner. If there is a question, ultrasound may be used to help look at the baby's growth and monitor it, as well as other things like the placental location, and the amount of amniotic fluid.

If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to call your practitioner and ask for advice.


Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Pregnancy & Childbirth
  4. Prenatal Care
  5. Trimester Guide
  6. How Your Baby Grows

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.