Reproduction & Pregnancy
Children are curious and one of the biggest mysteries when they are young is where babies come from and how they’re made! As your child gets older, the conversations about reproduction will likely shift to conversations around pregnancy and how to prevent one if a person isn’t ready to have a baby. Here are some ideas for talking about to your child about reproduction and pregnancy.
Talking to Your Young Child
One very common question young children have is “where do babies come from?” This question is a great opportunity to talk to your child about how reproduction happens.
When discussing reproduction, try to use words that your child understands while also using the correct names for body parts. For example, a 3 year old may be satisfied with “babies grow in a special place inside a mom’s body called a uterus”. However, a 6 year old may have more questions about how the baby grows, and may want to know how it will come out. You could elaborate by saying “a baby grows in the uterus and is born through the vagina”.
Talking to Your Child and Teen
You may want to increase your understanding of how pregnancy occurs, and the stages of fetal development, in order to feel comfortable and confident teaching your child about it. Click here to find an overview of pregnancy.
Stages of Fetal Development
The first trimester (0 up to 13 weeks of pregnancy), is a critical time in a baby’s life. It is a period of rapid growth and development. By the end of the first trimester, all of the baby’s organs will be formed and functioning. In the developing embryo, neurons start to form by 6 weeks of pregnancy. By 16 weeks about 250,000 neurons are being created every minute. For more information about the first trimester, click here.
During the second trimester (13-26 weeks), the baby continues to develop a lot. By the end of the second trimester a baby will be about 32 cm (13 inches) long and weigh around 1 kg (2 lbs.) or as much as a small melon. The baby starts to move around and has finger and toe prints. During the second trimester until about 24 weeks, the baby cannot live outside of the body because their lungs, heart and blood systems have not developed enough. For more information about the second trimester, click here.
In the third trimester (26 – 40 weeks of pregnancy), the baby will move a lot more, their eyes will open and they have eyelashes and eyebrows. They can also sense light and sound. By 40 weeks, the baby will be about 55 cm (20 inches) long and weigh 2.7 – 4 kg (6-9lbs.). For more information about the third trimester, click here.
Make sure your child knows your values and beliefs around sexual activity and pregnancy – do this by talking to your child about your values and beliefs, and by modelling them in your every-day life. It doesn’t matter if your child is male or female; both partners are responsible for their own body and their own actions. Learn more about safer sex practices, STIs and birth control methods so that you can provide your child with accurate information to help them make healthy decisions now and in the future.