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Fetal Development & Abortion Methods

You think you may be pregnant. Questions may be running through you mind at this time as to what to do; how far along you might be; how much the baby has developed. Determining the birthdate and gestation period of a pregnancy is based on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). That does not mean you were pregnant at that time, but that pregnancy occurred during that ovulation period. Normally you would have your menstrual cycle 28 days after you LMP. This may be your concern as that did not take place.

Pregnancy begins at conception then the baby implants in the mother’s uterus at the 7-day mark after conception. Three days after this your menstrual cycle will stop which indicates the possibility of pregnancy. A woman’s body starts producing hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is what a pregnancy test measures to determine pregnancy. You may decide to get a pregnancy test from the store to determine if it is true.

While you are considering this possibility, the baby may have already begun a heartbeat. The heart begins beating in a fetus at day 18. By 21 days the fetus is pumping blood through its own circulatory system. At 28 days eyes, ears and the respiratory system are beginning to form. The baby starts the development quickly growing each day in your womb. At this time, you are making decisions about this pregnancy possibly talking with your partner about where to go from here especially if this pregnancy is unplanned. The three options including parenting, adoption, or abortion.

Abortion may be a strong consideration if circumstances are unfavorable and support seems minimal. What does that look like as the fetal development weeks continue? North Carolina law allows abortion up to week 20. Using medical methods is generally administered in the first 10 weeks. Surgical abortions are performed in the first trimester up to 14 weeks. After 14 weeks, the second trimester, dilation and evacuation will be the method of abortion used. What does this look like when considering the development of the baby and how these processes effect the fetus?

At 42 days, less than 7 weeks, brain waves are recorded, the skeleton is complete, and reflexes are present. By 8 weeks all body systems are present. As the weeks progress the baby continues to develop and move in your womb. The drug RU-486, the drug used for a medical abortion in the first trimester, blocks progesterone needed for the continued development of the baby. It causes the lining of the uterus wall to die separating the placenta from the uterus. The placenta is the nutritional and oxygen support for the baby. When the placenta separates from the uterus the baby no long receives nutrition or oxygen and it will dye in the womb. The second part of this drug produces contractions so that the baby is expelled from the uterus.

After 10 weeks a surgical abortion would take place. This involves a vacuum aspirator to remove the developing baby from the uterus. While the baby is still very small by this time he squints, swallows, moves his tongue, makes a fist, shows spontaneous breathing movements. Fingernails are developed and all body systems are working. This method of abortion is used up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. After 14 weeks Dilation and Evacuation, the most common 2nd trimester surgical abortion, is used. The cervix is opened, and forceps are used to remove the baby from the uterus. At 16 weeks genital organs are clear, and the baby grasps with his hand, kicks, turns, and somersaults. By 18 weeks vocal cords are working and the baby can cry.

As you read through this information considering your next steps. Know that there are individuals who will talk with you about your options. Resources are available in our community that will help you through your pregnancy. If you choose to parent your child, know that Hands of Hope is here to help you through pregnancy and until your child reaches age 2. We will do a free pregnancy test to determine a positive outcome. We are also able to schedule a free ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and determine gestation age. The state of North Carolina has options for health insurance for qualifying individuals. WIC is available to those needing assistance with formula. Contact Hands of Hope at 828-247-4673, email us at or, or chat with us on our website. Support is just a contact away.

Fetal Development & Abortion, First Coast Women’s Services,

Images are from WebMD, Slideshow: Fetal Development Month by Month,

Pregnancy Visual Timeline, Grow by WebMD,

Faint Positive Home Pregnancy Test: Am I Pregnant?, healthline Parenthood,

NCDHHS information on Medicaid options for pregnancy,

WIC North Carolina,

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