There are a number of things that must fall into place in order to have a baby. The creation of a human being requires the right environment, the right factors, the right timing, and a great deal of luck. The first step occurs when an egg cell from a woman unites with a sperm cell from a man to form an embryo the beginnings of a human being. This process is called conception. After conception comes the process of fertilization, which is the process in which sperm cells must be present in the woman's reproductive tract at the time the egg enters the fallopian tube. This can happen in several ways.

If the woman has intercourse with a man during the week preceding ovulation, then he may deposit semen (a fluid containing sperm cells) into the woman's vagina. Some of the sperm can make their way through the cervix (the opening of the uterus, located at the end of the vagina), into the uterus, and on up into the fallopian tubes. There, one of them may meet with the egg as it travels down one of the tubes toward the uterus. Intercourse is not the only way to get sperm in position. Another way is for a doctor to place sperm cells directly into the woman's uterus at the right time in her cycle, a technique called intrauterine insemination. These sperm can also swim up the fallopian tubes, seeking the egg.

Furthermore, when the sperm meets the egg, they attempt to penetrate the egg's outer layer. When one succeeds, the egg's outer surface forms a barrier to prevent other sperm from penetrating. The union of the sperm and egg is called fertilization. The fertilized egg is the first cell of a new human being. It contains a complete set of the genetic information necessary for the development of a baby. Half of that genetic material comes from the mother, carried in the egg; the other half comes from the father, carried in the sperm cell.

That means the baby will have a combination of characteristics from both parents. The next step after fertilization consists of the fertilized cell floating down the fallopian tube toward the uterus, where the cell divides into two. Those two cells then divide to make four, and the division continues. In a week or so after fertilization, the growing cluster contains about 100 cells. We can now say that the woman carrying this embryo is pregnant and the embryo is ready to go through the three trimesters of pregnancy. During the first trimester, the embryo goes through a variety of changes.

The embryo reorganizes and forms three distinct types of cells, the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. The ectoderm develops the nervous system, and epidermis of the skin. The mesoderm develops the muscle tissue, connective tissue, and organs. The endoderm develops the digestive, and respiratory systems. The embryo will then develop into a fetus, which will be 2 inches long when the trimester ends. Following the first trimester comes the second trimester.

During the second trimester the fetus will develops many of its vital organs and processes. Also during this stage, the mother's abdomen and fetus enlarges, and the fetus's heartbeat can be heard. The fetus will sleep, kick, curl, hiccup, and all these movements can be felt by the mother. The fetus is 13 inches long by the end of the second trimester.

Finally the fetus goes into the third trimester which tells us that the fetus will grow very rapidly at this point. The fetus will undergo changes that will enable it to survive outside of the mother. The fetus can now see light, hear music and feel movements. During any parts of the trimesters, the mother can do tests to see how the baby is doing.

Some of these tests include an ultrasound, testing of the chemical Alpha-Fetoprotein in the mothers' blood, fetal motion counts and an Amniocentesis. An Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to form an image of the uterus, placenta, and fetus. This view into the uterus allows doctors to measure many details about the fetus, including: Growth of the fetus, Abnormalities of the fetal structures such as heart, brain, limbs, kidneys, and stomach, Birth defects, Location and development of the placenta. The testing of the chemical Alpha-Fetoprotein is a process in which the doctor analyzes the pregnant mothers blood. If the test shows that the level of Alpha-Fetoprotein is higher or lower than normal, further tests will be done to confirm or rule out fetal problems. In fetal motion counts, the doctor may keep track of the number of fetal movements in a specified period of time.

Finally, in an Amniocentesis the doctor will draw out a sample of amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby for examination. The doctor does this because the amniotic fluid that surrounds the growing fetus can carry important information, and an amniocentesis allows a small sample of this fluid to be collected for analysis. An Amniocentesis may be done for many reasons including, the identification of genetic defects, and identify any birth defects After the three trimesters of pregnancy the fetus is finally ready for birth. Birth occurs 270 days after fertilization, (approx.

9 months. ) In labor, he muscles that line the uterus start to contract. These contractions enable the uterus and vagina to enlarge so the fetus will be able to pass through them. However during delivery, if the vagina is not large enough to deliver the fetus, we will then do an episiotomy, which is when the doctors numb the vagina and cut the lower portion to make sufficient room for the fetus to pass through. Furthermore, the contractions will push the fetus through the cervix, through the vagina and out of the mother. After all this has taken place the umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is removed.

This type of birth is called a vaginal delivery; this is the traditional style of delivery in which the mother is an active participant. However, another type of delivery is a Cesarean delivery, this is done when complications occur and the fetus can be delivered through an abdominal incision made on the mother. During pregnancy, the mother should keep in mind that the food that she eats goes directly to her soon to be son or daughter. Therefore the mother should eat plenty of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Keep in mind that during pregnancy there may be certain craving of certain foods you may want to eat. Remember that the mother is eating for two, so don't eat too much unhealthy things.

While we are on the subject of the health of the fetus, the mother should not do drugs or drink alcohol while she is pregnant. The consumption of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy is very dangerous to the fetus. It may cause FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) which means the nervous system of the fetus may not develop properly. In addition FAS, the baby may encounter other complications such as Low birth weight, Failure to live outside of mother, Organ dysfunction, Facial abnormalities: such as smaller eye openings and flattened cheekbones, Poor coordination / fine motor skills, Learning difficulties, and Behavioral problems. During pregnancy, many complications may occur. Some of these complications include birth defects, Ectopic pregnancies, Preeclampsia, and miscarriage.

The most common birth defects are those associated with the brain and spinal column, heart, and limbs. The other common defect concerns the chromosomes in the cells of the fetus. (Ex. downs syndrome. ) In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube.

The narrow fallopian tubes are not designed to hold a growing embryo, so the fertilized egg in this type of pregnancy cannot develop normally. Preeclampsia is a condition where the mother suddenly experiences a sudden increase in blood pressure after about the 7 th month of pregnancy. This can be a deadly situation for the mother; usually the doctors will have her deliver the baby prematurely. Miscarriages are usually caused by chromosomal abnormalities, Infections, uncontrolled diabetes, uterine abnormalities, or a woman's production of certain antibodies during pregnancy can also cause an early miscarriage.