Prenatal Development & Psychology: Stages & Abnormal Development

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Studying Infant Development in Psychology: Experiments, Instincts & Abilities

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Introduction
  • 0:45 Development from…
  • 2:15 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • 3:30 Psychological Development
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Paul Bautista
Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

How is prenatal development related to psychology? How are minds forming in the womb still linked to the outside environment? This lesson explores the stages of prenatal development and a mother's ability to affect her unborn child.


You're probably wondering how what happens to a baby before it's born is related to psychology. We typically think of babies' development inside their mothers as more physical than psychological. But since the brain is growing and changing during this time, healthy prenatal development is actually really important for giving babies healthy, properly-functioning minds. Think of it like a computer; long before a computer ever tries to run software, its hardware needs to be put together properly. If any of its wires are crossed or missing, the software won't run as well. If the development of the baby's body and brain are disrupted, it can affect the way a baby's mind, or software, runs on it later.

After about nine weeks, an embryo becomes a fetus.

Development from Zygote to Fetus

First, let's cover some of the basics. Each one of us starts out as a zygote, which is an egg cell that has been fertilized by sperm. Once fertilized, the egg cell begins to divide itself in two, then into four, then into eight--multiplying itself into a little cluster of cells. While all this is happening, the zygote heads down to the uterus and tries to attach itself to one of the walls. If it does (and only about half of them are successful!) it's called an embryo. This embryo continues to divide itself and grow larger, but something else really important and cool starts to happen as well: the cells begin a process known as differentiation, where they start to turn into all the different kinds of cells in our bodies--blood cells, skin cells, etc. The cells before differentiation are kind of like high school students. They all take basically the same subjects and earn the same high school diploma. But when they get to college, they start majoring in different subjects; one might turn into a biology major, and another into an English major. Students in college are more like the cells in an embryo after differentiation; they start to specialize in different subjects, or functions in the body.

After about nine weeks, the embryo is referred to as a fetus. All of foundations for the babies' major systems and functions have been laid, and the rest of the pregnancy is devoted to helping the fetus grow and fully develop. If all goes well, a healthy baby is born after about nine months!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Additional Activities

Prenatal Development and Psychology Crossword Puzzle

This activity will assess what you've learned about the stages and abnormalities of prenatal development.


Complete the crossword by filling in a word that fits each of the given statement. To do this, you can just right-click the crossword to save the image and print it. With a pencil and an eraser, neatly write your answers in the boxes provided.


3. Hearing _____ sounds is one of the important early psychological developments that occur in the womb.

5. Fetal alcohol syndrome causes mental retardation and growth _____.

8. A zygote is formed when a sperm cell _____ an egg cell.

9. _____ is a chemical substance that can cause the malformation of an embryo or birth defects.


1. The embryo divides and grows until it undergoes a process known as _____.

2. A _____ prenatal development is essential for giving babies properly-functioning minds.

4. The _____ is the stage after the fertilization of the egg that precedes the development into a fetus.

6. Babies become accustomed to their mother's _____ while still in the womb.

7. The reproductive cell or gamete of the male is known as a _____.

8. The embryo about nine weeks of gestation is now referred to as a _____.

Answer Key

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account