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Difference Between Embryo and Fetus

embryoThe embryo refers to the first stage of development of a baby from the moment of fertilization. It is called a fetus from the eighth week of conception. There are developmental differences between the two stages and a lot of difference that the mom faces while she is carrying them.

The embryo is the first thing you notice when you go for a pregnancy test. It is the size of a sesame seed at the time you go for your first ultrasound. By the fifth week of development, the embryo will display a heartbeat in the early ultrasounds. As time progresses, the tiny embryo will develop buds in its form that develop into hands and legs. This is also the time when the neural tube starts developing. The neural tube later develops into the brain and the spinal cord. During this time, the developing embryo gets all its nourishment from the uterine tissue or the amnion. The placenta also starts developing at this stage. The placenta is the lifeline through which your baby will get its oxygen and nourishment from your body.

The mother experiences a number of physical symptoms at this stage. These may include nausea, lethargy and a lack of appetite. Since most of the important organs of your fetusbaby develop during the embryo stage, the first trimester of pregnancy is very important. Even though you may feel nauseous and lethargic, eat nutritious food in smaller portions. Rest is very important at this stage and you should strictly avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine at all costs. You should also take particular care about taking you prenatal vitamins like folic acid. It is also important for you to take a healthy amount of light exercises at this stage.

You should also take care at this stage because most miscarriages take place during the first trimester. There may be problems in the egg or the sperm which causes chromosomal deficiencies in the embryo. These may cause miscarriages in the early stages.

The embryo starts developing into a fetus from the eighth week onwards. Once the embryo reaches the stage of the fetus, the other organs like the liver, brain and kidneys start functioning inside the tiny body. You can also see the tiny differentiation of the fingers and the toes. This is also the time when the external genitalia are visible on an ultrasound. Of course, the trained eye of the doctor will be able to identify it better than you do on the ultrasound screen!

Mother’s physical symptoms will ease up a bit during this time. However, some women do have continuous symptoms even at this stage.

Basically, your baby is referred to as an embryo till 8 weeks after conception. After this time, he or she will be known as a fetus till he is born. But what does that matter? To you, he is your tiny miracle, from the day you first come to know about your pregnancy!


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