Innovation Anchored in Tradition:
Action Research @ Glendale Community College

Project Links:
What is PAR?
Literature Review
Cycle One
Cycle Two
Cycle Three
Reflection on '04-'05

Future Cycles

Michael Dulay

Essay Response: Sample
(second half of a one-hour exam)

Essay Questoin: Imagine that someone in your life just received word that she was pregnant. Write a letter to her outlining advice you have regrading pregnancy and childbith.

Dear Anna,

    Congratulations!   I just heard the exciting news that you are expecting your first child.   This is a very happy time but since this is your first child, not knowing what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth can be a little scary.   Don't worry, I am writing you this letter to help you better understand what to expect.

    The first stage of pregnancy is called the germinal stage.   This stage is two weeks long from conception to implantation.   It begins when the sperm and ovum unite to form a single celled zygote containing genetic information from you and the father.   The cell divides continuously until about the end of the first week.   The specialized cells form a fluid filled sac called a blastocyst.   Cells from the outer layer of the blastocyst bury itself into the uterine wall but the end of this stage.   In addition, cells from the uterine lining and blastocyst combine to form the placenta.   The placenta is what will allow oxygen, nutrients and othe substances to be transferred between you and your baby.

    The second stage of pregnancy is called the embryonic stage.   This stage is from three to eight weeks and is defined by the development of organs, a process known as organogenisis.   What was called a zygote in the germinal stage is now an embryo that is differentiated into three layers.   The outer layer is called the ectoderm and houses the neural tube and skin.   This neural tube is further broken down into three layers consisting of the cortex where higher cognitive function exists including perception, body movement, thinking and language; the limbic system that houses the emotions and the brain stem that consists of all the vital functions.   The middle layer of mesoderm will become the muscles, bones, skeleton and vascular system.   Finally, the inner layer or endoderm consists of the heart, lungs, and other organs.   Proper nutrition is critical throughout pregnancy but especially when the neural tube is developing.   Deficiencies   could hinder growth of critical areas of the brain and cause permanent damage to mental and motor functions.

    The final stage of pregnancy is called the fetal stage.   This stage runs from week nine until birth is a time of organ growth and refinement.   In the third month the sex organs take shape and are complete by week twelve.   The baby has all its body parts by now and can move them all.   The middle three months is when the digestive and excretory systems develop more fully.   There is also impressive brain growth during this time; about six times in size and responsiveness.   The baby will have teeth, hair, and fingernails by the end of this stage and around week eighteen you should start to be able to feel your baby move.   The last three months is when the cardiovascular and respiratory systems near maturity.   The last ten weeks the baby will go through one final growth spurt before birth gaining about four and a half pounds.

    The first stage of childbirth are usually contractions.   This is the baby's way of telling you they are ready to be born and your body's way of preparing itself to deliver the baby.   This is usually the longest stage of childbirth and since this is your first child you can expect it to last between twelve and fourteen hours.   Look on the bright side, this time will often decrease to about four to six hours with future children.   The dilation and effacement of the cervix are critical for childbirth because the cervix needs to be wide and thin enough to deliver the baby.

    The second stage of childbirth lasts about fifty minutes and this is the actual delivery.   This time too will decrease with future children to about twenty minutes.   This is when everyone is telling you to push with your abdominal muscles to force the baby down and out of the birth canal.

    After you have delivered your baby there is a third and final stage of childbirth and this is the delivery of the placenta.   It only takes five to ten minutes and with a few contractions the placenta separates from the uterine wall and is delivered.

    Once your baby is born it will be assessed with the standard APGAR scale.   When medical staff declares your baby healthy you will be able to look and hold your baby and see how each developmental stage of pregnancy created a tiny human being.   This is a very special and important time in parents lives as well as the baby's.   Everything your baby experiences is brand new and it is important for parents to understand what developmental stages infants go through, but that is a whole other letter!   Good luck and talk to you soon.


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