Human Foetus Development Medical Illustrations

Development of the Embryo and Foetus

Medical illustration cell division foetus development

Medical Illustrations by Joanna Culley of Embryo and Foetal Development

Medical illustrations of foetal development are a popular choice for those wishing to share in the amazing development of the human foetus from a single cell to a fully formed baby ready for survival outside of the womb. Joanna’s illustrations have been created for a range of clients, from foetal development illustrations for a Pregnancy app, to accompany a book written by midwife Christine Just, to mother and baby websites and those expectant parents who want to learn all about their growing baby, to a midwife in Australia who commissioned pregnancy charts to represent women of colour. To commission these types of illustrations then contact Joanna here.

The Embryonic Period of Foetal Development

The process of prenatal development occurs in three main periods. The first two weeks after conception are known as the germinal period, the third week through to the eighth week are known as the embryonic period and by the beginning of the ninth week of gestational age the third period has started where embryo has acquired its basic form and is referred to as a foetus and thus termed the foetal period.

The second stage, the embryonic period, is characterised by the growth and maturation of tissues and organs from a single fertilised cell. The cells divide and form a blastocyst that embeds into the uterine wall of the uterus. The blastocyst reaches the uterus at roughly the fifth day after fertilisation where the embryo becomes embedded in the endometrium in a process called implantation.

The embryo continues to develop anatomical features even in its first few weeks. The embryo only reaches the size of a kidney bean at eight weeks measuring just 1.6cm but the organs and muscles have already begun to function and where circulatory, excretory, and neurologic systems have also begun to develop.

The Foetus (fetus) Development Period

During the foetal period the foetus develops in remarkable stages. By week five the foetus has already begun to develop  its heart with separate atria anatomy. The heart, liver, umbilical cord, and the mesonephric ridge are visible externally as bulges and the heart looks more red in colour. It is during this time that the foetus will be beginning to physiologically develop the tissues, organs, and other structures needed for survival.

This stage of prenatal development lasts the longest and is marked by amazing change and growth. The foetal period also marks the more important development changes such as in the brain and indeed the neural tube, brain, spinal cord and other neural tissue of the central nervous system is well formed; ready for the brain and associated structures to continue to develop until birth. Features such as the hands have a paddle like appearance but will soon develop fingers as well as the touch pads on the fingers themselves.

To capture these types of details medical artist Joanna Culley has been commissioned to illustrate these very stages to show the developing foetus. Over and above a photograph illustrations such as these can bring to life all the astonishing changes, even when the embryo and subsequent foetus is only millimetres in size.

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