16 weeks.
Babies, Parenting

From sperm and egg to fully-grown human

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
October 15th, 2016
16 weeks.

There’s no doubt about it, birth is bloody fascinating. The fact that a fully-formed baby can make its way out into the world through a narrow canal inside its mother and exit out of a tiny, albeit very stretchy, vagina or through a c-section incision is pretty miraculous. Most of us have witnessed birth in one way or another; we’ve done it ourselves, we’ve seen a loved one do it or seen pictures or film of strangers doing it.

The only thing that intrigues me more than birth itself is the stuff that goes on inside that we can’t see. While we all know that sperm + egg = baby, being able to see it all – from conception through to full-term pregnancy – from the depths of a woman’s womb is mind-blowing to say the least.

The pics below were taken by photographer Lennart Nilsson (who is now 91 years old) back in 1965. Using a camera and light attached to a cystoscope, a medical instrument commonly used to explore the inside of the urinary bladder, Lennart snapped away and managed to capture the miracle of life. From the inside.

The pictures were published in Nilsson’s famous book, A Child is Born, which remains one of the greatest photography books of all time.

I’ve looked through these pictures so many times and can’t stop marvelling at how babies are made. Seriously, to see how my two little munchkins came to be has me awestruck in the biggest way.

The sperm makes its way along the fallopian tube in search of the egg.

The sperm makes its way along the fallopian tube in search of the egg.

The egg, waiting patiently.

The egg, waiting patiently.

Hello there...sperm meets egg.

Hello there…sperm meets egg.

Out of 200 million sperm, one lucky duck makes it through the egg's membrane.

Out of 200 million sperm, one lucky duck makes it through the egg’s membrane.

The head of the sperm contains all of the genetic material. Here's a POV of the sperm.

The head of the sperm contains all of the genetic material. Here’s a POV of the sperm.

The embryo makes its way to the womb after a week.

The embryo makes its way to the womb after a week.

The embryo sets up camp by attaching itself to the uterine wall.

The embryo sets up camp by attaching itself to the uterine wall.

22 days in. The grey part will become the babies BRAIN.

22 days in. The grey part will become the babies BRAIN.

The heart begins to beat 18 days in.

The heart begins to beat 18 days in.

28 days.

28 days.

The face at just five weeks, showing signs of eyes, mouth and nostrils.

The face at just five weeks, showing signs of eyes, mouth and nostrils.

40 days.

40 days.

8 weeks.

8 weeks.

Eyelids already half-open at just 10 weeks.

Eyelids already half-open at just 10 weeks.

Tiny hands feel around at 10 weeks old.

Tiny hands feel around at 10 weeks old.

18 weeks.

18 weeks.

Thin skin shows the intricate blood vessels.

Thin skin shows the intricate blood vessels.

A beautiful little hand at 19 weeks.

A beautiful little hand at 19 weeks.

20 cm long at 20 weeks.

20 cm long at 20 weeks.

24 weeks old.

24 weeks old.

6 months with the mo and brows of an old man!

6 months with the mo and brows of an old man!

36 weeks, all squished and nearly ready to make a grand entrance.

36 weeks, all squished and nearly ready to make a grand entrance.

*All photographs by the incredible Lennart Nilsson.

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