Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson (1922 – 2017) combined his passion for science and photography to take photos of the stages of baby development using a cystoscope. He first took photos in 1957, but since they were in black and white, the images weren’t clear enough for publishing. However, he took the photos again in 1965 using the same process, and LIFE magazine ended up publishing them because of their clarity and depth into how exactly life begins.
The issue of the magazine was so popular that it ended up selling out in just a few days! Nilsson’s photo essay was titled “Drama of Life Before Birth,” and the photos below perfectly capture the chaos and fragility of conception. Not surprisingly, the photos sparked a debate about when life actually begins, and many antiabortion activists reference them to support their cause.
We hope you enjoy these photos that show the miracle of life in its early stages; be prepared to be in awe!
These photos perfectly capture the stages of baby development before birth:
1. Sperm moving toward an egg
You can clearly see the sperm moving towards the egg in the fallopian tube.
2. Spermatozoon continue to swim toward the egg
This is the egg that the sperm will fuse with.
3. Where life begins
The sperm is about to collide with the egg.
4. The fusing continues
One lucky sperm made it to the egg.
5. A closeup shot of a spermatozoon
The head contains all the DNA that will combine with the egg to form the baby’s genetic makeup.
6. Baby In Womb
It will take a week for the tiny embryo to move from the fallopian tube to the womb where the baby will remain until birth.
A week later and the embryo is now attached to the wall of the womb.
8. Heart beating at day 18
This tiny heart has started to beat on just the 18th day after conception.
9. Day 28
28 days after conception.
10. Facial features start developing
You can start seeing crevices in the face developing after 5 weeks.
11. The embryo continues to develop
This is how an eight-week-old embryo looks in the womb. (It does look a bit like an alien at this point, doesn’t it?)
12. The hands start moving slowly
The fetus uses the fingers to understand its environment in the womb.
13. Seeing under the skin
You can clearly see the blood vessels under the baby’s skin.
14. Week 18
At 18 weeks, the fetus starts to hear sounds in the outside world.
15. 20 weeks
The baby is approximately 20cm. It begins to develop woolly hair, or lanugo, on the entire head.
16. 26 weeks
Isn’t life just amazing? The baby has been in the womb almost 7 months now. Only 2 more months to go!
The development of life is perhaps one of the most precious and sacred processes on the planet. Without life, Earth would be a pretty boring place. Humans and other animals should be cherished, because the journey to get here wasn’t easy (especially for the moms out there!)
Which of the photos of baby development did you find most awe-inspiring? Please share with us in the comments!