Human Interest

‘Baby Olivia’ provides an incredible look at the first trimester of human development

Baby Olivia, abortion, Live Action

The science of human development shows that at the moment of fertilization, a new and unique human being comes into existence. During the first trimester of pregnancy, a preborn baby quickly grows from a single-celled human to a baby with a beating heart just 22 days after fertilization. This tiny human being is undeniably human at every stage — and Live Action’s “Baby Olivia” video gives a detailed and remarkable look at this small but amazingly developed life inside the womb.

This new human being’s sex, hair color, eye color, and countless other traits are already determined at fertilization. She is tiny, but she is complex. Her DNA makes her unique from every other human being who has ever existed or will ever come into existence.

Implantation (within one week after fertilization)

Just one week after fertilization, she implants in the uterus, and her cells organize into what we call the embryo. At three weeks and one day from fertilization (five weeks LMP), her heart is beating and can be detected by ultrasound.

The buds of her arms and legs begin to form at four weeks, and at five weeks she begins moving both spontaneously and reflexively. At six weeks, she has recordable brain activity and her bones begin to form. At seven and a half weeks, she can bring her hands together and her fingers and toes are distinguishable. She can hiccup, too — something her mother will eventually be able to feel.

Seven (7) weeks after fertilization

At the start of week nine (week 11 LMP), she is made up of nearly one billion cells and is now officially in the fetal stage of life. She can now suck her thumb, swallow, touch her face, sigh, stretch, and even grasp objects. Her face, hands, and feet can sense light touch. Her early vocal cords have formed, paving the way for her first cry outside the womb.

Though her mother can’t yet feel it, by 11 weeks after fertilization, the baby is exploring her environment inside the womb. She can make complex expressions, and her nose and lips have completely formed.


She has grown from a single cell human being to a visibly human fetus in just three months, and she has been herself since the first moment she came into existence. Throughout the next two trimesters, she will continue to grow stronger in preparation for her life outside the womb. Her pre-birth journey has brought her far and she only needs more time in the safety of her natural environment to complete this first phase of her life.

Visit The Endowment for Human Development for more information.

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