Prenatal and Newborn Development

by Melissa L. Camp

Prenatal Period

The prenatal period is from conception to birth which is a nine-month period where a one-celled organism transforms into a human baby. There are three trimesters during a normal pregnancy or prenatal period for the baby.

During the first two weeks of the first trimester the zygote forms, then by weeks 3-4 the embryo forms and its primitive brain and spinal cord appear. During weeks 5-8 as an embryo its face, arms, legs, toes and fingers form as well as its internal organs. The embryo becomes a fetus during weeks 9-12 and it increases rapidly in size. Nervous system, organs, and muscles find their place and connect. The fetus is able to kick, suck their thumb, open their mouth and practice breathing. And by week 12 the sex of the fetus is evident. The second trimester occurs during weeks 13-24 and the fetus continues to grow and its movements are felt by the mother. It is sensitive to light and can react to sound. By the third trimester (weeks 25-38) the fetus can survive if it born prematurely, but it size increases, lungs mature, there is rapid brain development, and antibodies are transmitted from mother to fetus to protect against disease.

Newborn Period

Newborn Development

When a baby is first born it is given to its mother and from that moment a bond is formed. Bonding is a feeling of affection and concern for the baby from both mother and father. Parents say they can discriminate their baby from another by contact, touch, smell, and sight. Once bonding is established then parents start to see the baby develop reflexes which are inborn, automatic responses to particular form of stimulation. Once they get used to their reflexes then motor skills start to become introduced such as reaching, sitting, crawling, and eventually walking. Parents and their baby will start to recognize the five stages of arousal such as regular sleep, irregular sleep, drowsiness, quiet alertness, and waking activity and crying. As a baby grows and develops so will its sensory skills such as touch, taste, smell, hearing and vision. Parents will also notice when they take their babies in for a well check-up that doctors will use a Neonatal Behavioral Assessment to evaluate their baby's reflexes, muscle tone, state changes, responsiveness to physical and social stimuli, and other types of reactions.

Tips to support development through the first year

There are three domains of development: physical, cognitive, and emotional and social. During the physical stage newborns develop their motor capacities such as reaching, sitting, crawling and walking. During the cognitive stage, a newborn starts to have an understanding of its surrounds. During the emotional and social stage, he/she will express delight when the parents get excited over their new achievement.

Research and culture influences

There are ways to study whether or not one's culture influences how a baby will grow and develop or how they will learn. This research is conducted using observational or self-report procedures. One method in particular is ethnography which is a descriptive, qualitative technique directed toward understanding culture through participant observation.
Big image

Nature vs. Nurture

Is it more important for our children to have our genes to help them learn and grow or is the environment and world around them that will help them learn and grow? This question falls into an old theory of nature vs. nurture and what parents feel is more influential to their children, especially their newborn baby. Parents will want to keep a watchful eye on anything genetic that their baby could have inherited from either of them, but they also want to be wary of what goes on around them that could influence their child as he/she starts to grow and develop socially. There are many influences in the world that could hinder their child's schooling from day one if they do not keep a watchful eye and are full supporters of their child's education.