All human life begins from conception. Majority of the time, women won’t know the exact day when they got pregnant. Your doctor will count the start of your pregnancy from the first day of your last menstrual period. That’s about two weeks ahead of when conception actually occurs. Each month inside your ovaries, a group of eggs starts to grow. Eventually one of the eggs erupts from the follicle and this is known as ovulation. It usually happens about two weeks before your next period.
A hormone is released that helps thicken the lining of your uterus, getting it ready for the egg. After the egg is released, it moves into the fallopian tube. When a sperm does make its way into the Fallopian tube and burrow into the egg, it fertilises the egg. The egg changes so that no other sperm can get in. The egg stays in the Fallopian tube for about three to four days, but within 24 hours of being fertilised it starts dividing very fast into many cells. It keeps dividing as it moves slowly through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
The developing collection of cells is now called an embryo and is attached to the wall of the uterus by a placenta. Chemicals are released to prevent the women having another menstrual period. By 8 weeks, the embryo had grown between approximately 3 and 4cm, has a recognisable heartbeat and the beginnings of eyes, ears and a mouth. At this stage, it’s known as a foetus. During the remaining 7 months, all the organs continue to develop and by 20 weeks, the foetus will have reached about half its length at birth and by 32 weeks, it will be about half its birth weight.
Only about half fertilised eggs develop to become babies and is many eggs are lost without the women ever knowing she was pregnant. Birth and Infancy: 0 – 3 years Birth is the end point of pregnancy and results in the expulsion of newborn from the pregnant woman’s uterus. Birth has three stages of labour: the cervix’s shortening and dilation, the descent and birth of the infant, and the expulsion of the placenta. Birth can also be done via caesarean section which is the removal of the newborn through a surgical incision in the abdomen.
The newborn baby, also referred to as a neonate, must consume easily digestible food such as the mother’s milk within the first few months in order to grow. When babies are born, their brains are not fully developed however they can hear sounds, tell differences in the taste of things and identify the smell of their mother or main carer. This is due to infants being born with various temporary and primitive reflexes. The primitive reflexes consists of: Rooting reflex: this is when the newborn baby turns their head towards any touch on the cheek and this helps them to get the nipple into their mouth to feed.
Grasp reflex: If you place your finger in the palm of the baby, they will grasp your finger tightly. When the baby is startled i. e. by loud noises, they will throw their arms outwards, arching their back and straightening their legs. This is called the startle reflex. If the baby is held upright, they will attempt to move their feet as if they are walking. This is called the walking reflex. Regarding physical development, the first year is the period of rapid physical growth. A normal baby doubles its birth weight in six months and triples it in a year.
During that time, there is great expansion of the head and chest, allowing development of the brain, heart, and lungs. The bones, which are relatively soft at birth, begin to harden and soft parts of the newborn skull, begin to calcify, the small one at the back of the head at about 3 months, the larger one in front at varying ages up to 18 months. Brain weight also increases rapidly during infancy: by the end of the second year, the brain has already reached 75% of its adult weight. The babies’ physical features will also noticeably change i. e. the face shape, hair length etc.
Babies motor skills develop as they get older from hand-eye coordination, passing objects from hand to hand to rolling over, supported walking and free walking by 18 months +. They later on learn to run and climb stairs. Babies prefer the sound of humans interacting to other sounds and from this, they quickly learn to recognise and identify their mother’s voice. Babies form their first relationship through emotional attachments with their mother or main carer. The first year of a baby’s life is a period of incredible growth, and a baby’s brain goes through critical periods during which stimulation is needed for proper development.
During the babies first years, visual stimuli or verbal language is necessary for areas of the brain to grow and without this growth, a child’s vision or speaking abilities might be impaired. Infants tend to have different cries for hunger or pain, as well as making other noises. These abilities show your child is gaining communication and pre-language skills. Infants from birth to 6 months will forget about objects they cannot see however they begin to explore objects they can see and grab by putting them in their mouths.
They will also follow moving objects with their eyes and look around at nearby objects. Infants in this stage will turn to look at a source of sound. These developmental milestones show a baby’s brain is developing and they are gaining new skills. From 7 to 12 months, infants also learn the idea of cause and effect, and they might repeat an action that causes a certain reaction i. e. they will shake a rattle and listen to its noise. While younger infants will forget about objects you hide, older infants will look for things they see you hide.
Infants in this stage also still explore objects by putting them in their mouths. They are better able to pass objects from hand to hand, and they can even pick up items like cereal between their thumbs and index fingers. Infants’ emotions are seen when they feel pleasure or distress in different situations. A well-fed, sleepy, and comfortable baby will be very peaceful. This satisfied state can quickly change to frantic crying when an infant is hungry, uncomfortable or has a wet nappy. They will become excited about people, toys, and food.
They will also let you know they’re unhappy i. e. if they dislike their bath, have to wait for food, or are left sitting in their car seat or stroller for too long. Infants have almost no ability to control their emotions at times become overwhelmed, even with things that usually make them feel good. Childhood: 4 – 9 years Children will continue to grow during this period of their life however not as rapidly as during infancy. By the age of 6, the child’s head will be 90% of adult size although the body still needs to continue growing.
The child’s reproductive organs continue to remain small until they have reaches the stage of puberty. A child in this age range grows approximately 2 and a half inches in height and 5-7 pounds per year in weight. Their body fat declines as they child is more active as they become adventurous. Boys tend to build up more muscle whereas girls will have more fat. By the age of 4, children are able to throw and kick larger balls and play basic ball games. By 6 -7, the child may have learned to skip and ride a bike.
Young children are still emotionally attached to their main carers as well as other adults that care for them. They begin to understand social roles and behaviours within the family which is known as primary socialisation. By having a family orientated environment, it provides a safe and secure base for the child to then learn how to form social relationships with other children through play. They learn to co-operate with other children, and later on, become more independent and form their own relationships with children based on their sense of mutual trust.
They will continue to largely depend of those familiar faces surrounding them and at certain times, will only settle with specific people i. e. if their ill, they may only want to be picked up by their mother. Children use their imagination in order to piece together and understand the social roles others play and through their imagination, they form an ideal ‘me’. Relationships with family members and other familiar adult’s impacts on the child’s sense of self-worth and how much they feel valued within the family circle.
Also, relationships through teachers and their friends will influence their self-esteem and confidence. This can go either way as they may feel comfortable and totally confident or have a sense of failure and inferiority amongst others i. e. peers. Intellectually, a child of the age 5+ is able to speak using full adult grammar although their vocabulary will continuously expand and grow. Their formal grammar will continue to improve and by this age, they can be expected to use language effectively.
Children at this early stages of this age group are not able to process thoughts logically however they will still use certain words to communicate even though they don’t know what they mean. For example, children can count to 10 but are unaware of what 10 is exactly. As they get older, their brains are able to think more logically and can understand simple logic problems. During the ages of 7-8, children tend to have difficulty mentally imagining information they’ve been given but if presented to them in a different form, i. e. visually, they can solve the problem.
Adolescence: 10 – 18 years During the adolescence age range, both boys and girls will go through various changes known as puberty. During this phase, both males and females will experience physical, emotional and social changes. Puberty in girls often begins between the ages of 11 and 13 however it may be earlier in some girls. Changes in the female body consist of widening of the hips, developing breasts, pubic hair, oilier skin, period will begin and a general curvy outline of their body. Boys tend to go through puberty at a later stage beginning around the age of 13 to 15 years of age.
Changes within the males consist of growth of facial hair, breaking of their voice, growth of pubic hair, testes beginning to produce sperm, enlarging of the penis and increased muscle leading to increased strength. Puberty is a development stage during which the body is beginning preparation for sexual reproduction and this development is triggered by hormones in the body that control sexual development. Through the life stage of adolescence, individual’s sense of self-worth and the ways in which they perceive and react to certain things will be greatly influenced by other adolescences, mainly those within their social circle.
They will copy from others’ sense of dress, style, beliefs, cultural values and behaviours within their group of friends rather than members of family. They will value the thoughts and opinions of their own network of friends in comparison to those of their parents and other family members. Adolescence is seen as a time of stress as they are coping with the development of their sexuality as well as the transition to fuller independence from the family. Emotionally, adolescents are yet continuously developing their sense of self.
They need to develop a secure sense of identity and have a clear understanding of this identity in order to feel secure when working alongside other people. Adolescents will also require this when forming relationships, both in general and sexual attachments. Again, adolescence can be an emotionally stressful time due to the individual’s self-esteem being dependent on their sense of identity and the way they have developed this identity. Adolescents will still require the emotional support from their parents and family although they may not show this as openly.
During adolescence, the developing teenager acquires the ability to think systematically about all logical relationships within a problem. The transition from concrete thinking to formal logical operations occurs over time. Each adolescent progresses at varying rates in developing on their ability to think in more complex ways. Each adolescent develops their own view of the world, some may be able to apply logical operations to school work long before they are able to apply them to personal dilemmas. When emotional issues arise, they often interfere with an adolescent’s ability to think in more complex ways.
The ability to consider possibilities, as well as facts, may influence decision making, in either positive or negative ways. During early adolescence, the use of more complex thinking is focused on personal decision making in school and home environments such as beginning to demonstrate use of formal logical operations in schoolwork and to question authority and society standards. Middle adolescence often expands to include more philosophical and futuristic concerns such as questioning and analysing more extensively as well as thinking about and beginning to form their own code of ethics.
During late adolescence, complex thinking processes are used to focus on less self-centred concepts as well as personal decision making i. e. having increased thoughts about more global concepts such as justice, history, politics, and patriotism and developing idealistic views on specific topics or concerns. They may also begin to focus thinking on making career decisions and emerging role in adult society. Adulthood: 19 – 65 years and Older Adults: 65+ years Young adults are often at their peak of their physical performance between the ages of 18 and 28 years of age.
Above this age ranges, adults will tend to lose some strength however this goes highly unnoticed unless they are in competitive sports. There are numerous physical changes relating to age and some of the more noticeable ones would be hair loss which is more common in men. Adults near the higher end of the age range may begin to wear reading glasses as eyesight is known to deteriorate with age as well as finding they are unable to hear higher pitched noises. Women are most fertile in their late teens and early twenties, the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications rising with age.
Between the ages of 45 and 55, fertility reduces and then comes to an end with most known physical change in women, the menopause. This involves: The gradual ending of menstruation and the reduction in number of eggs in the ovaries Increased production of hormones which tries to stimulate egg production and can cause irritability, hot flushes and night sweats Reduction in production of sex hormones causing shrinkage of sexual organs and can also cause reduction in sexual interest Associated problems i. e.
osteoporosis which can be caused by the reduced production of sex hormones Older adults are more likely to gain weight as they are no longer as physically active as they once were. The weight gain is mainly caused by adults eating the same amount of food they did as they were much younger but they have become much less active so will not burn it off as they once did. Approaching and entering into older adulthood, individuals are more at risk of developing disease and disabilities. Other physical signs of ageing would be the sagging of skin and appearance of wrinkles on certain regions of the face.
Socially, during early adulthood, friendship networks continue to remain highly important to individuals. For many in early adulthood, a main priority is forming adult sexual relationships and finding work or establishing a career. The commitment of marriage and becoming parents is a representation of major social development in their lives. Socialising and individuals social activities may be reduces due to time pressures however this is mainly in the age region of forties and fifties.
More mature adults will manage to balance their priorities and commitments such as looking after family members, work, children etc. as well as being able to fit in their social activities. It’s important that adults maintain a social life in order to keep them simulated and allow them to relate to others in the same life stage as them. Those at the ages of 60 – 65+ may have retired and will now use their free time to spend and build on their relationships with their family and friends rather than increase their social network.
During their free time, they may also emerge themselves into new hobbies and interests to keep themselves busy and active. Intellectually, individuals within this age range During early adulthood, individuals are learning to cope with the emotional attachment to a sexual partner and to do so, they may have to learn to compromise and change themselves. This would involve not being too self-centred or defensive and not becoming emotionally isolated.
Young adults will be more into searching for individuals to get involved with intimately and finding a person they would consider settling down with. When in relationship, many adults may then change themselves in certain ways to express their emotions for their partner and accommodate them in their lives. Getting older, adults may face the risk of emotional ‘stagnation’ when they lose interest in social issues. Along the journey into adulthood, many may waver at the commitment when it comes to events like marriage and starting a family.
This is due to them being hesitant as it’s emotionally, a significant attachment and development. Into older adulthood, individuals need to develop a secure sense of self as this enables them to cope with and come to terms with the physical changes associated with old age. As well as this, they may begin to think and wonder about their lifetime achievements and how they’ve lived out their lives. This is due to the drawing closer of death. For some individuals who cannot make sense of their life may experience emotional despair.