Unit 1 – Upgrades
D1: Ovulation: Ovulation is when one or more eggs are released from one of the women’s ovaries. This occurs towards the end of the time she is fertile between periods. Every month, between 3 and 30 eggs are produced and mature in the ovaries. The ripest and most mature is released and sent down the fallopian tube which are connected to the uterus. To become pregnant naturally, one of the eggs and the partner’s sperm must meet in the fallopian tube. The egg does not survive past 24 hours after being ovulated, so they must meet within this time. However sperm can survive in the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes for up to 7 days, therefore there is a fertile window of opportunity of about 6 days.
Fertilisation: The sperm has an enzyme in the tip called acrosomal proteins. The very outside layer of the egg cell is called the zona pellucida. When the tip reaches the zona pellucida, it starts the acrosome reaction where the sperm uses the enzyme to eat away and dig a tunnel through the zona pellucida to the egg’s plasma membranes. When the sperm cell finally reaches the egg cell the plasma membranes of the two cells fuse together and the sperm releases its nucleus which contains the DNA to make a child. At the fusion of the two cells it triggers another reaction which stops other sperm cells from binding onto the zona pellucida and forms a protective layer around the fertilised egg.
At the moment of fertilisation the foetus’ genetic make-up is complete including the sex. “Since the mother can only provide X chromosomes (she is XX), if a Y sperm fertilises the egg your baby will be a boy (XY) and if an X sperm fertilises you egg, your baby will be a girl (XX)”
Morula: “A solid ball of cells resulting from division of a fertilised ovum, and from which a blastula is formed.” (Google definition) Within a few days if fertilisation the outer cells of the morula become tightly bound, this process is called compaction.
The three stages of labour:
Labour progresses in three distinctive stages. “During pregnancy, your cervix is closed and plugged with mucus to keep out infection. Your cervix is long and firm, giving a strong base to your womb. It’s also in a position that points slightly towards your back (posterior position)” (www.bounty.com/pregnancy-and-birth/birth/in-labour/stages-of-labour)
Before labour can start properly, the cervix must go through some changes. It has to move forwards (anterior position) soften and shorten. The softening of the cervix is called the ‘ripening’.
1st stage of labour: During the latent stage, contractions begin and may be as much as 20 minutes apart. The cervix should be beginning to dilate to about 3 cm. At this point they shouldn’t be too noticeable and may be passed off as a stomach ache and may be advised to stay at home until they get stronger.
Contraction: a shortening of the uterine muscles occurring at intervals before and during childbirth (Google definition)
The active stage is where the contractions are beginning to be more powerful and frequent. The cervix should become increasingly dilated to fully dilate which is 10cm. contraction will be more frequent and close to three or four minutes apart and lasting between 60 to 90 seconds. During the more powerful contractions, it will become more difficult to ignore or talk through it and may require focus and breathing and relaxation methods. Nausea may be felt as this is the body’s way of preparing for the delivery of the baby by clearing the digestive system. During this stage the mother should move to the decided place of birth.
The transitional stage is where the cervix is about 8cm dilated, one may feel the first urge to push. Contractions may be less frequent now but are much stronger and last much longer. Pain relief may be required at this point.
2nd stage of labour: This is where you are fully dilated and you are really ready to start pushing the baby out. The midwife should help you find a comfortable position, whether it be sitting, laying, kneeling, leaning over a birthing ball etc. this last can last anywhere between a few minutes and several hours. However if you’ve had a baby previously, the second should come out faster than the first. With each contraction felt, the baby’s head should start to lower down into the pelvis. Every time you push the baby is moving further down the pelvis. Once the baby’s head has emerged, the rest should come quite quickly, and the baby is born.
3rd stage of labour: You may think it’s all over after you’re holding your baby, but the placenta still needs to be delivered. Contractions should come back momentarily and you will feel the urge to push again as the placenta peel away from the walls of the uterus. The midwife will examine once again to make sure everything came out.
The development and growth of a child is so rapid, from them being a helpless tiny infant to an individual who can think, speak, have opinions and solve problems for themselves. Knowing and understanding these stages of a child’s development can help you support and recognise their needs and what certain behaviours may mean and therefore provide appropriate learning opportunities and activities. These stages are only guidelines as children all develop at different rates and some may have developmental delays.
From birth to 3 years: Crawling, walking and running. Infants will display new developmental abilities. By three years the child should be able to feed themselves, put pen to paper, even if it does not seem like much, and simple things such as blocks and toys. They should also be able to throw a ball and start to get to grips with toilet training. During this stage the child will cry and grunt to make their needs known. By their first year they should be able to utter single words or name familiar objects. By year two they should be able to form simple sentences and follow simple instructions. By their third year of life they should be able to use more complex sentences because of their increasing range of vocabulary.
During this early stage of development children learn social skills, such as binding with their caregivers and learning who to trust.at this age children also start to learn their independency. This is aided by ritualistic behaviour for example bed time routines, carried out by parents, a sense of reliability and comfort from parents and practitioners. “this can lead to the frustrating behaviour often known as the ‘Terrible Twos’, as toddlers question their parents frequently and try to assert their independence through tantrums.”
Children may also start to learn turn taking and want to play alongside other children; however their ability to sit still for long periods of time may not appear for some time. Towards the end of this stage they may be ready to engage with other children and play with them in pretend play and simple games. Children of this age can; walk up and down stairs, jump in one spot, hold a pen/pencil, draw a circle, build a tower with blocks and use short sentences.
3-5 years: In this developmental stage, child should be able to hold a pencil a draw pictures with some recognisable shapes. They may also start to be able to copy letters and numbers. This is because of their fine motor skills which have been practiced and continue to be used and refined. Their vocabulary will greatly improve and can correctly use proper tenses in relation to what’s happening in their life e.g. we went to the park.
During this stage children should start to get better at sharing toys and playing in groups. As they begin to understand roles within society e.g. mummy, baby, teachers, doctors etc. They enjoy and engage more in pretend play. Children will also feel bad if they break the rules or do something bad, this is them starting to understand the difference between right and wrong. Their gross motor skills improve and children can now; skip, hop, stand on one foot for up to 10 seconds, pedal a tricycle or bicycle with stabilisers. They can also draw a person, toilet themselves and hold long conversations with people.
5-7 years: Children’s gross motor skills are much more defined now and they can do things such as riding a two wheeled bicycle or roller skating and fine motor skills such as tying shoelaces and writing legibly. Children are more capable, responsible and independent and if parents trust them in these things their confidence will grow too. Within friendship groups at school, they may divide according to gender and shared interests. At this time children may be reluctant to accept responsibility for rules they know they have to abide by. Children also know how and when to be polite.
During this age children may be able to solve simple maths additions and is grasping language and can therefore start to understand and perhaps use sarcasm and idioms.
Neurological and brain development:
Neuroscientists have a clear understanding of how the environment has great effects, which can last a lifetime, on children. They can identify if a child has been through early negative experiences by looking at the child’s brain activity and patterns. Although the long term effects of negative early experiences such as stress, malnutrition, neglect and poverty are well known, it’s important to know evidence such as types of children more at risk of this and if it is possible to prevent or undo it. Neuroscientists can also help people understand if there is a critical period or a specific duration of vulnerability with certain types of negative experience. This helps practitioners improve their attempts at intervention and preventing children’s negative experiences.
The brain stem controls reflexes, breathing and heart rate and other involuntary processes. Behind the brain stem is the cerebellum which is responsible for balance, coordination, speech and smooth, balanced muscle activity. The largest part of the brain is called the cerebrum. Its role is processing memory and learning. The cerebral cortex is ¼ of an inch thick above the cerebrum and is where the brain’s most advanced activities are, such as planning and decision making. The ‘folds’ in the brain allow it to have more surface area and it’s therefore very important to brain function. The ridges are called gyri and the grooves are sulci.
In the brain, there are 4 lobes, frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe. The frontal lobe is associated with memory, abstract thinking, impulse control, planning, foreseeing consequences of actions and choosing between good and bad and suppresses socially appropriate behaviour. The parietal lobe is responsible for sensation and sensory input, such as heat, cold, pressure and pain. It also helps with the interpretation of objects, shapes and space. The temporal lobe is used for hearing, language skills and social understanding, including reading facial expressions. It also plays a role in the recognition of objects and visual memory. The occipital lobe is responsible for visual processing. The last brain area to mature is the prefrontal cortex. This area manages cognitive functions such as concentration, motivation, goal directed behaviour and helps form a personality.
Chemical and electrical signals pass through neurons which help the brain process information.
Dendrites: receive incoming signals from other neurons.
Nucleus: control centre, stores DNA, generates energy used by cell.
Myelin sheath: fatty layer, insulates the axon and increases efficiency of communications.
Axon terminals: relay outgoing signals to the next neurons.
Axon: conducts the signals and passes it through the neuron.
Node of Ranvier: allows the rapid conduction of signals.
Between the neurons are gaps that the signal ‘jumps’ over, this gap is called the synapse. “In the first three years, a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will have in adulthood” (www.urbanchildinstitute.org>why0-3)
By the time the child is born they will already have most of the neurons they will ever have. Their brain doubles in size within the first year of their life and by three years their brain is 80% of an adult’s brain volume. Synapses are produced at a faster rate in the first 3 years than it ever will be. It creates more than it needs and they are eventually eliminated through adolescence.
Examples of interdependence of children’s needs.
Children need education, but without adequate nutritious food their brain development, may be negatively affected and they will not have enough energy to concentrate and learn.
Children need food to grow and learn, but children who experience abuse will struggle to develop to their full potential. It is not enough, therefore to focus exclusively on food and shelter, and fail to protect children from harm.