Last Updated on May 6, 2022 by Shivani Goyal

In human reproduction, pregnancy (or gestation) is the development of one or more offspring, known as an embryo or fetus, in the uterus of a woman. A multiple pregnancy involves more than one embryo or fetus in a single pregnancy, such as with twins. Childbirth usually occurs about 38 weeks after conception. In women who have a menstrual cycle length of four weeks, this is approximately 40 weeks from the start of the last normal menstrual period (LNMP). Health authorities recommend that women not artificially begin delivery with labor induction or caesarean section before 39 weeks as this amount of time is considered “full term” for the child to develop. Human pregnancy is the most studied of all mammalian pregnancies. Conception can be achieved through sexual intercourse or assisted reproductive technology. An embryo is the developing offspring during the first 8 weeks following conception, and subsequently the term fetus is used until birth. In many societies’ medical or legal definitions, human pregnancy is somewhat arbitrarily divided into three trimester periods of three months each, as a means to simplify reference to the different stages of prenatal development. The first trimester carries the highest risk of miscarriage (natural death of embryo or fetus). During the second trimester, the development of the fetus can be more easily monitored and diagnosed. The third trimester is marked by further growth of the fetus and the development of fetal fat stores. The point of fetal viability, or the point in time at which fetal life outside of the uterus is possible, usually coincides with the late second or early third trimesters; babies born at this early point in development are at high risk for having medical conditions and dying. In the United States and United Kingdom, 40% of pregnancies are unplanned, and between a quarter and half of those unplanned pregnancies were unwanted pregnancies. Of those unintended pregnancies that occurred in the US, 60% of the women used birth control to some extent during the month pregnancy occurred.

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