Diary of an Unborn Child: Chronology of
the New Life
A person's a person,
no matter how small.
Immediately upon fertilization, cellular development begins.
Before implantation the sex of the new life can be determined.
At implantation, the new life is composed of hundreds of cells
and has developed a protective hormone to prevent the mother's body
from rejecting it as a foreign tissue.
At 17 days, the new life has developed its own blood cells; the
placenta is a part of the new life and not of the mother.
At 18 days, there are occasional pulsations of a muscle — this
will be the heart.
At 19 days, the eyes start to develop.
At 20 days, the foundation of the entire nervous system has been
At 24 days, the heart has regular beats or pulsations.
At 28 days, 40 pairs of muscles have developed along the trunk
of the new life; arms and legs are forming.
At 30 days, there is regular blood flow within the vascular
system; the ears and nasal development have begun.
At 40 days, the heart energy output is reported to be almost 20
percent of an adult's.
At 42 days, the skeleton is complete and the reflexes are
At 43 days, electrical brain wave patterns can be recorded. This
is usually ample evidence that "thinking" is taking place in the
brain. The new life may be considered a thinking person.
At 49 days, the baby has the appearance of a miniature doll with
complete fingers, toes and ears.
Name changed from embryo to fetus.
At 56 days all of the organs are functioning — the stomach, liver,
kidney, and brain — all systems are intact. There are lines in the
palms. All future development of the new life is simply that of
refinement and increase in size. This is approximately two months
before "quickening" yet there is a new life with all of its parts
needing only nourishment. The mother will usually not feel the
child's movements until four months after conception.
9th and 10th week, the baby squints, swallows, and retracts its
18 week old fetus
11th and 12th week, the arms and legs move, the baby sucks its
thumb, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid; nails are appearing.
16 weeks (four months), the genital organs are clearly
differentiated, the baby grasps with its hands, swims, kicks, and
turns somersaults (still not felt by mother).
18 weeks, the vocal cords are working . . . the baby can cry.
20 weeks, hair appears on the baby's head; weight — one pound;
height — 12 inches. A fetus (little one, child, baby) is a human
person at fertilization, 10 weeks, and 20 weeks.
By the Numbers Feature. "Diary of an Unborn Child: Chronology of the
New Life." Lay Witness (Jan/Feb. 2003).
The Institute Slubow Narodu, a prominent Polish lay apostolate group,
printed "Tragic Diary" at the request of His Eminence Stephen Sysznski,
primate of Poland. The article, written by H. Schwab, appeared in the
December 1961 issue of Sodalis, publication of SS. Cyril and
Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, MI. It was translated for Our
Sunday Visitor by Fr. Edward J. Krason, assistant pastor of SS.
Peter and Paul Parish, Huntington, IN, and printed in the June 24, 1962
This article is reprinted with permission from Lay Witness
magazine. Lay Witness is a publication of Catholic United for
the Faith, Inc., an international lay apostolate founded in 1968 to
support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.