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Part a: Photo shows a human fetus, with a large bent head and a dark eye, fingers on its arm and a leg bud. The spine is visible through the back, and the abdomen protrudes out as far as the leg bud. Part b: The second trimester fetus has long arms and legs, and is attached to the placenta, which is round and larger than the fetus. Part c: This illustration shows a third trimester fetus, which is a fully developed baby. The fetus is upside down and pressing on the cervix. The thick umbilical cord extends from the fetus’ belly to the placenta.
(a) Fetal development is shown at nine weeks gestation. (b) This fetus is just entering the second trimester, when the placenta takes over more of the functions performed as the baby develops. (c) There is rapid fetal growth during the third trimester. (credit a: modification of work by Ed Uthman; credit b: modification of work by National Museum of Health and Medicine; credit c: modification of work by Gray’s Anatomy)

During the second trimester, the fetus grows to about 30 cm (about 12 inches) ( [link] b ). It becomes active and the mother usually feels the first movements. All organs and structures continue to develop. The placenta has taken over the functions of nutrition and waste elimination and the production of estrogen and progesterone from the corpus luteum, which has degenerated. The placenta will continue functioning up through the delivery of the baby. During the third trimester, the fetus grows to 3 to 4 kg (6.5–8.5 lbs.) and about 50 cm (19–20 inches) long ( [link] c ). This is the period of the most rapid growth during the pregnancy as all organ systems continue to grow and develop.

Concept in action

Visit this website to see the stages of human fetal development.

Labor is the muscular contractions to expel the fetus and placenta from the uterus. Toward the end of the third trimester, estrogen causes receptors on the uterine wall to develop and bind the hormone oxytocin. At this time, the baby reorients, facing forward and down with the back or crown of the head engaging the cervix (uterine opening). This causes the cervix to stretch and nerve impulses are sent to the hypothalamus, which signals the release of oxytocin from the posterior pituitary. Oxytocin causes smooth muscle in the uterine wall to contract. At the same time, the placenta releases prostaglandins into the uterus, increasing the contractions. A positive feedback relay occurs between the uterus, hypothalamus, and the posterior pituitary to assure an adequate supply of oxytocin. As more smooth muscle cells are recruited, the contractions increase in intensity and force.

There are three stages to labor. During stage one, the cervix thins and dilates. This is necessary for the baby and placenta to be expelled during birth. The cervix will eventually dilate to about 10 cm. During stage two, the baby is expelled from the uterus. The uterus contracts and the mother pushes as she compresses her abdominal muscles to aid the delivery. The last stage is the passage of the placenta after the baby has been born and the organ has completely disengaged from the uterine wall. If labor should stop before stage two is reached, synthetic oxytocin, known as Pitocin, can be administered to restart and maintain labor.

Section summary

The reproductive structures that evolved in land animals allow males and females to mate, fertilize internally, and support the growth and development of offspring. Gametogenesis, the production of sperm (spermatogenesis) and eggs (oogenesis), takes place through the process of meiosis.

The male and female reproductive cycles are controlled by hormones released from the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary and hormones from reproductive tissues and organs. The hypothalamus monitors the need for FSH and LH production and release from the anterior pituitary. FSH and LH affect reproductive structures to cause the formation of sperm and the preparation of eggs for release and possible fertilization. In the male, FSH and LH stimulate Sertoli cells and interstitial cells of Leydig in the testes to facilitate sperm production. The Leydig cells produce testosterone, which also is responsible for the secondary sexual characteristics of males. In females, FSH and LH cause estrogen and progesterone to be produced. They regulate the female reproductive cycle, which is divided into the ovarian cycle and the menstrual cycle.

Human pregnancy begins with fertilization of an egg and proceeds through the three trimesters of gestation. The first trimester lays down the basic structures of the body, including the limb buds, heart, eyes, and the liver. The second trimester continues the development of all of the organs and systems. The third trimester exhibits the greatest growth of the fetus and culminates in labor and delivery. The labor process has three stages (contractions, delivery of the fetus, and expulsion of the placenta), each propelled by hormones.

Art connections

[link] Which of the following statements about the male reproductive system is false?

  1. The vas deferens carries sperm from the testes to the seminal vesicles.
  2. The ejaculatory duct joins the urethra.
  3. Both the prostate and the bulbourethral glands produce components of the semen.
  4. The prostate gland is located in the testes.

[link] D

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[link] Which of the following statements about hormone regulation of the female reproductive cycle is false?

  1. LH and FSH are produced in the pituitary, and estrogen and progesterone are produced in the ovaries.
  2. Estradiol and progesterone secreted from the corpus luteum cause the endometrium to thicken.
  3. Both progesterone and estrogen are produced by the follicles.
  4. Secretion of GnRH by the hypothalamus is inhibited by low levels of estrogen but stimulated by high levels of estrogen.

[link] C

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Questions & Answers

what are the characteristics of living things
Ruth Reply
Movement Respiration Nutrition/Feeding Irritability/Sensitivity Growth Excretion Reproduction Deat/Life span
Hashim
What makes children from the same father and mother sometimes don't look alike?
Hashim
identification of problems
Nana Reply
what happens in the process of raising the human arms
Nana
what is biology
Brandi Reply
first step in scientific method
Brandi
In an investigation the pancreatic duct of a mammal was blocked.It was found that the blood sugar regulation remained normal while food digestion was impaired.Explain
Mac Reply
To begin with, obstruction of pancreatic duct will alter the blood sugar level as the juices responsible for glucose regulation will be rendered inconsequential. This will in turn affect the rate of digestion and absorbtion of digested food substances by the Villus .
Muktar
characteristics of algae
OMIME Reply
Algae are eukaryotic organisms. Algae do not have roots and stems. Algae have chlorophyll and helps in carrying out photosynthesis.
Aditi
Cell wall is the rigid layer enclosed by membranes of plants and prokayortic cell, it maintains the shape of the cell and serve as a protective barrier.
chizoba Reply
ECOLOGY: is a branch of biology that studies the interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. 
chizoba
via nutrient cycles and energy flows. For instance, the energy from the sun is captured by plants through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a biological process through which plants manufacture their own food with the aid of light from the sun and frc sources (e.g. cabon dioxide and water)
chizoba
What is cell wall
Taiwo Reply
cell wall is the outemost rigid covering of the plants ,that provides protection to the plants.
Aditi
what is ecology, ecosystem?
Nkeng Reply
what is digestive system
Lucky Reply
digestive system is the human syman system that icludes esopuges stomach o braking down of food in to useful substance to our body
samrawit
definition of biology basics
Ritu Reply
the potential energy of a molecule can be inquired by their number of?
Jesus Reply
what is the full meaning of RNA
Ayo Reply
ribose nucleic acid
Nikita
Ribonucleic acid
Jesus
Ribo Nucleic Acid
Aditi
ribonucleic acid
Nana
discuss, describe at least three (3) methods that could be used to improve photosynthesis..
Marvel Reply
Improve the efficiency with which plants capture light Improve the efficiency by which plants turn light into energy The smart canopy concept develop crop planting schemes that increase the penetration of sunlight into lower-level leaves.
Jesus
what is osmosis
Aon Reply
movement of water molecule from higher to lower concentration through a semipereable membrene.
Dr
what of in the case of solute
Aon
osmosis is the movement of molecules from higher concentration region to lower concentration region through semi-permeable membrane.
Broad
in case of solute means that water moves from the region with lower solutes to the region with higher solute. so it is vice versa to water.
Broad
osmosis is the movement of water molecule from a region of lower concentration to a region of higher concentration through a semi permeable membrane
Nana
what are the hydrophilic and hydrophobic region of the plasma membrane?
Samuel Reply
hydrophilic in other word it called water loving and hydrophobic region other word is region that does not contact with water in the plasma membrane.
Broad
the phospholipids
Jesus

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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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