Reproduction & Pregnancy
Children are curious! One of the biggest mysteries when they’re young is where babies come from and how they’re made! As your child gets older, the conversations will likely shift to talking about pregnancy and how to prevent one when someone isn’t ready to have a baby. It may also include what to do about an unintended pregnancy. Here are some ideas for talking to your child about reproduction and pregnancy.
Talking to Your Young Child
One common question young children have is “where do babies come from?” This question is a great chance to talk to your child about how reproduction happens.
When talking about reproduction, try to use words that your child understands but still 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 or how it’ll come out. You could say something like “A baby grows in the uterus and is born through the vagina.”
Talking to Your Child and Teen
If you you’d like to learn more about how pregnancy happens so you feel more comfortable and confident teaching your child, see How Pregnancy Occurs.
Stages of Fetal Development
The first trimester (0–13 weeks of pregnancy) is a time of rapid growth and development. From 0-8 weeks the baby is called an embryo, and then called a fetus until birth. By the end of the first trimester, all of the organs are formed and working. By 6 weeks of pregnancy, nerve cells (neurons) start to form. By 16 weeks, about 250,000 neurons are created every minute. To learn more about the first trimester, see First Trimester.
This growth continues during the second trimester (13–26 weeks). By the end of the second trimester, a baby will be about 32 cm long and weigh around 1 kg or as much as a small melon. The baby starts to move around. The baby even has finger and toe prints. During the second trimester until about 24 weeks, the baby can’t live outside of the mother’s body because their lungs, heart and blood systems are not developed enough. To learn more about the second trimester, see Second Trimester.
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 (around the time when most babies are born), the baby will be about 55 cm (20 inches) long and weigh 2.7–4 kg (6–9 pounds). To learn more about the third trimester, see Third Trimester.
Make sure your child knows your family values and beliefs around sexual activity and pregnancy. You 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 give your child the correct information to help them make healthy decisions now and in the future.