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The prenatal period is one of the most important stages of development because it sets the stage for future psychological development. The prenatal period is divided into three stages: the germinal stage, the embryonic stage, and the fetal stage.
The germinal period lasts between the first and second weeks of pregnancy and begins when the egg combines with the sperm in one of the two fallopian tubes. The zygote proceeds towards the uterus, a process that takes about a week. At the same time, the zygote divides rapidly, a process known as cleavage. One reaching the uterus, the zygote becomes a blastocyst and implants itself into the wall of the uterus (Moore, Persaud & Torchia, 2011). The next stage is the embryonic period which occurs from the third week through the eighth week. During this stage, the mass of cells is known as the embryo. During this period the mass of cells becomes distinct as a human. Additionally, the rate of cell differentiation intensifies at this point which also involves the development of support systems for the cells. The embryo divides into three layers which becomes important body systems (Moore, Persaud & Torchia, 2011).By the end of this period, the legs and the arms become differentiated, and the heart starts to beat. Additionally, the intestinal tract appears, and the face starts to form.
The last period is the fetal stage which occurs from the second month up to the ninth month. During this stage, the embryo enters the next stage becoming a fetus which moves around. This period marks important changes in the brain. By the end of this period the sex organs begin to differentiate.
Moore, K. L., Persaud, T. V. N., & Torchia, M. G. (2011). The Developing Human E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
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