[This is part 7 of a multi-part series chronicling a pregnancy through the lens of “Baby Chris.” Click here for other parts.]
Six weeks after conception, Baby Chris has reached several major milestones, particularly when it comes to nervous system development. Neurons are growing in the newly formed cerebral cortex, a brain structure crucial for complex thought. Baby Chris has also started moving. As the Endowment for Human Development explains: “Though a pregnant woman does not feel movement for at least another 8 to 10 weeks, the embryo begins to move between 5 and 6 weeks. The embryo’s first movements are both spontaneous and reflexive. A light touch to the mouth area causes the embryo to reflexively withdraw its head, while the embryo’s trunk will twist spontaneously. Movements are essential for the normal development of bones and joints.”
In the liver, Baby Chris is producing red blood cells and lymphocytes (a key component of the immune system). Cartilage (including the external ear) is now present, as are retinal pigments, salivary glands, and “digital rays”—which will create fingers from Baby Chris’s disc-shaped hands. The diaphragm and nipples have also formed.
Baby Chris’s organs are growing so rapidly that his or her abdominal cavity is running out of space! As a result, it is normal at this stage for the intestines to temporarily protrude into the umbilical cord, a phenomenon known as physiologic herniation.
Remember to download the See Baby app to follow Baby Chris’s journey through pregnancy and birth!