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Gestation is the period of development during the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside viviparous animals. [1] It is typical for mammals, but also occurs for some non-mammals. Mammals during pregnancy can have one or more gestations at the same time, for example in a multiple birth.


The time interval of a gestation is called the gestation period . In human obstetrics, gestational age refers to the fertilization age plus two weeks. This is approximately the duration since the woman's last menstrual period (LMP) began.


In mammals, pregnancy begins when a zygote (fertilized ovum) implants in the female's uterus and ends once the fetus leaves the uterus.

On the main article link above, are average and approximate gestation values ordered by number of days (note: human gestational age is counted from the last menstrual period; for other animals the counting method varies, so these figures could be 14 days off)


Human pregnancy can be divided roughly into three trimesters, each approximately three months long. The first trimester is from the last period through the 13th week, the second trimester is 14th–27th week, and the third trimester is 28th–42nd week. [2] Birth normally occurs at a gestational age of about 40 weeks, though it is common for births to occur from 37 to 42 weeks. [2] From the 9th week of pregnancy (11th week of gestational age), the embryo is called a fetus.

Various factors can come into play in determining the duration of gestation. For humans, male fetuses normally gestate several days longer than females and multiple pregnancies gestate for a shorter period. [3]


A viviparous animal is an animal employing viviparity: the embryo develops inside the body of the mother, as opposed to outside in an egg (oviparity). The mother then gives live birth. The less developed form of viviparity is called ovoviviparity, which, for instance, occurs in most vipers. The more developed form of viviparity is called placental viviparity; mammals are the best example, but it has also evolved independently in other animals, such as in scorpions, some sharks, and in velvet worms. Viviparous offspring live independently and require an external food supply from birth. Certain lizards also employ this method such as the genera Tiliqua and Corucia. The placenta is attached directly to the mother in these lizards which is called viviparous matrotrophy.

Ovoviviparous animals develop within eggs that remain within the mother's body up until they hatch or are about to hatch. This strategy of birth is known as ovoviviparity. It is similar to vivipary in that the embryo develops within the mother's body. Unlike the embryos of viviparous species, ovoviviparous embryos are nourished by the egg yolk rather than by the mother's body. However, the mother's body does provide gas exchange. The young of ovoviviparous amphibians are sometimes born as larvae, and undergo metamorphosis outside the body of the mother.

The fish family Syngnathidae has the unique characteristic whereby females lay their eggs in a brood pouch on the male's chest, and the male incubates the eggs. Fertilization may take place in the pouch or before implantation in the water. Included in Syngnathidae are seahorses, the pipefish, and the weedy and leafy sea dragons. Syngnathidae is the only family in the animal kingdom to which the term "male pregnancy" has been applied. [4]

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Pregnancy (mammals) period of reproduction during which a female mammal carries one or more live offspring from implantation in the uterus through gestation

In mammals, pregnancy is the period of reproduction during which a female carries one or more live offspring from implantation in the uterus through gestation. It begins when a fertilized zygote implants in the female's uterus, and ends once it leaves the uterus.

Uterus major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans

The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive secondary sex organ of the reproductive system in humans and most other mammals. In the human, the lower end of the uterus, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the upper end, the fundus, is connected to the fallopian tubes. It is within the uterus that the fetus develops during gestation. In the human embryo, the uterus develops from the paramesonephric ducts which fuse into the single organ known as a simplex uterus. The uterus has different forms in many other animals and in some it exists as two separate uteri known as a duplex uterus.

Birth Process of giving birth to one or more offspring

Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring, also referred to in technical contexts as parturition. In mammals, the process is initiated by hormones which cause the muscular walls of the uterus to contract, expelling the fetus at a developmental stage when it is ready to feed and breathe. In some species the offspring is precocial and can move around almost immediately after birth but in others it is altricial and completely dependent on parenting. In marsupials, the fetus is born at a very immature stage after a short gestational period and develops further in its mother's womb's pouch.

Development of the human body is the process of growth to maturity. The process begins with fertilization, where an egg released from the ovary of a female is penetrated by a sperm cell from a male. The resulting zygote develops through mitosis and cell differentiation, and the resulting embryo then implants in the uterus, where the embryo continues development through a fetal stage until birth. Further growth and development continues after birth, and includes both physical and psychological development, influenced by genetic, hormonal, environmental and other factors. This continues throughout life: through childhood and adolescence into adulthood.

Viviparity The quality of giving birth to live young in animals, or, in plants, seeds or embryos that begin to develop before they detach from the parent

Among animals, viviparity is development of the embryo inside the body of the parent, eventually leading to live birth. This is opposed to oviparity which is a reproductive mode in which females lay developing eggs that complete their development and hatch externally from the mother.

Ovoviviparity mode of animal reproduction

Ovoviviparity, ovovivipary, ovivipary, or aplacental viviparity is a mode of reproduction in animals in which embryos that develop inside eggs remain in the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. This method of reproduction is similar to viviparity, but the embryos have no placental connection with the mother and generally receive their nourishment from a yolk sac. In some species, yolk sac supplies are supplemented, or largely replaced by, uterine secretions or other maternal provisioning. Examples include trophic eggs in the uterus, or even intrauterine cannibalism.

Female reproductive system Reproductive system of human females

The female reproductive system is made up of the internal and external sex organs that function in reproduction of new offspring. In humans, the female reproductive system is immature at birth and develops to maturity at puberty to be able to produce gametes, and to carry a foetus to full term. The internal sex organs are the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The uterus or womb accommodates the embryo which develops into the foetus. The uterus also produces vaginal and uterine secretions which help the transit of sperm to the Fallopian tubes. The ovaries produce the ova. The external sex organs are also known as the genitals and these are the organs of the vulva including the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening. The vagina is connected to the uterus at the cervix.

Gestational age is a measure of the age of a pregnancy which is taken from the beginning of the woman's last menstrual period (LMP), or the corresponding age of the gestation as estimated by a more accurate method if available. Such methods include adding 14 days to a known duration since fertilization, or by obstetric ultrasonography. The popularity of using such a definition of gestational age is that menstrual periods are essentially always noticed, while there is usually a lack of a convenient way to discern when fertilization occurred.

Pregnancy time when children develop inside the mothers body before birth

Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman. A multiple pregnancy involves more than one offspring, such as with twins. Pregnancy can occur by sexual intercourse or assisted reproductive technology. A pregnancy may end in a live birth, miscarriage, or abortion. Childbirth typically occurs around 40 weeks from the start of the last menstrual period (LMP). This is just over nine months, where each month averages 31 days. When measured from fertilization it is about 38 weeks. An embryo is the developing offspring during the first eight weeks following fertilization, after which, the term fetus is used until birth. Symptoms of early pregnancy may include missed periods, tender breasts, nausea and vomiting, hunger, and frequent urination. Pregnancy may be confirmed with a pregnancy test.

Male pregnancy Pregnancy in males

Male pregnancy is the incubation of one or more embryos or fetuses by male members of some species. Most species that reproduce by sexual reproduction are heterogamous—females producing larger gametes (ova) and males producing smaller gametes (sperm). In nearly all animal species, offspring are carried by the female until birth, but in fish of the family Syngnathidae, males perform this function.

Prenatal development includes the development of the embryo and of the fetus during a viviparous animal's gestation. Prenatal development starts with fertilization, in the germinal stage of embryonic development, and continues in fetal development until birth.

Placentation Formation and structure of the placenta

In biology, placentation refers to the formation, type and structure, or arrangement of the placenta. The function of placentation is to transfer nutrients, respiratory gases, and water from maternal tissue to a growing embryo, and in some instances to remove waste from the embryo. Placentation is best known in live-bearing mammals (theria), but also occurs in some fish, reptiles, amphibians, a diversity of invertebrates, and flowering plants. In vertebrates, placentas have evolved more than 100 times independently, with the majority of these instances occurring in squamate reptiles.

Human reproduction procreative biological processes of humanity

Human reproduction is any form of sexual reproduction resulting in human fertilization. It typically involves sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. During sexual intercourse, the interaction between the male and female reproductive systems results in fertilization of the woman's ovum by the man's sperm. These are specialized reproductive cells called gametes, created in a process called meiosis. While normal cells contains 46 chromosomes, 23 pairs, gamete cells only contain 23 chromosomes, and it is when these two cells merge into one zygote cell that genetic recombination occurs and the new zygote contains 23 chromosomes from each parent, giving them 23 pairs. A typical 9-month gestation period is followed by childbirth. The fertilization of the ovum may be achieved by artificial insemination methods, which do not involve sexual intercourse. Assisted reproductive technology also exists.

Crown-rump length

Crown-rump length (CRL) is the measurement of the length of human embryos and fetuses from the top of the head (crown) to the bottom of the buttocks (rump). It is typically determined from ultrasound imagery and can be used to estimate gestational age.

A fetus or foetus is the unborn offspring of an animal that develops from an embryo. Following embryonic development the fetal stage of development takes place. In human prenatal development, fetal development begins from the ninth week after fertilisation and continues until birth. Prenatal development is a continuum, with no clear defining feature distinguishing an embryo from a fetus. However, a fetus is characterized by the presence of all the major body organs, though they will not yet be fully developed and functional and some not yet situated in their final anatomical location.

The reproductive system or genital system is a system of sex organs within an organism which work together for the purpose of sexual reproduction. Many non-living substances such as fluids, hormones, and pheromones are also important accessories to the reproductive system. Unlike most organ systems, the sexes of differentiated species often have significant differences. These differences allow for a combination of genetic material between two individuals, which allows for the possibility of greater genetic fitness of the offspring.

The estimated date of delivery(EDD), also known as expected date of confinement, and estimated due date or simply due date, is a term describing the estimated delivery date for a pregnant woman. Normal pregnancies last between 37 and 42 weeks.

Prenatal nutrition nutrition of the mother during pregnancy

Prenatal nutrition addresses nutrient recommendations before and during pregnancy. Nutrition and weight management before and during pregnancy has a profound effect on the development of infants. This is a rather critical time for healthy development since infants rely heavily on maternal stores and nutrient for optimal growth and health outcome later in life.

Mammalian reproduction

Most mammals are viviparous, giving birth to live young. However, the five species of monotreme, the platypuses and the echidnas, lay eggs. The monotremes have a sex determination system different from that of most other mammals. In particular, the sex chromosomes of a platypus are more like those of a chicken than those of a therian mammal.

Pregnancy in fish

Pregnancy has been traditionally defined as the period of time eggs are incubated in the body after egg-sperm union. Although the term often refers to placental mammals, it has also been used in the titles of many international, peer-reviewed, scientific articles on fish, e.g. Consistent with this definition, there are several modes of reproduction in fish, providing different amounts of parental care. In ovoviviparity, there is internal fertilization and the young are born live but there is no placental connection or significant trophic (feeding) interaction; the mother's body maintains gas exchange but the unborn young are nourished by egg yolk. There are two types of viviparity in fish. In histotrophic viviparity, the zygotes develop in the female's oviducts, but she provides no direct nutrition; the embryos survive by eating her eggs or their unborn siblings. In hemotrophic viviparity, the zygotes are retained within the female and are provided with nutrients by her, often through some form of placenta.


  1. "gestation | Definition of gestation in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English.
  2. 1 2 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - How Your Baby Grows During Pregnancy
  3. "gestation". Britannica - The Online Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica.
  4. Jones, Adam G.; Avise, John C. (2003-10-14). "Male Pregnancy". Current Biology. 13 (20): R791. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2003.09.045. PMID   14561416.