Continuing with our heart theme for healthy heart month we want to take a look at the tiniest human hearts…those little developing hearts inside the womb.

The human heart is an amazing organ that pumps life sustaining blood throughout the body.  The heart is so important for life that it is the very first organ to function in a newly forming embryo.  Two little heart tubes form 18 days after conception. That is about when a woman realizes she is a few days late for her period and starts wondering if she might be pregnant.  These tubes fuse together, and by 21 or 22 days of life (5 weeks 1 day into a pregnancy), the tiny heart begins to beat.   You can see images and find out more about heart development at this way cool embryology site.

In a newborn baby the heart is about the size of the baby’s first.  For an embryo, however, the heart takes up most of its midsection.  The little heart tube quickly runs out of room and begins to bend and fold and takes on the heart shape we are more familiar with (Franklin Institute ).   The heart continues to develop and by nine weeks the heart has all four chambers and valves in place.

Here at True Care we use ultrasound to confirm what is called a viable pregnancy.  That means we can see a baby with a heartbeat in a woman’s uterus.  It is amazing that we can see those tiny little heartbeats as early as 5 weeks 4 days on our ultrasound machine.   We have had embryos that measure only 2mm and all we can see is the flickering little heart.

Here are a few images we took at True Care (click images to see a youtube video of the heart motion)

The tiny hearts we see on our ultrasound screens are truly amazing.  Heart health begins early when those little hearts are still forming.  Good heatlhy living for Mom helps baby to grow and develop in the womb.