With a strong presence in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, Pennsylvania-based Real Alternatives partners with state departments of health and human services to offer high-quality pregnancy counseling, parent support, and information on alternatives to abortion. Real Alternatives believes that the more women know about their developing babies, the less likely they will be to choose abortion.
A highly sophisticated network even long before birth, the human nervous system is among the first physical structures to develop in an embryo’s body. Sixteen days after conception, the baby’s neural plate forms, this will be the foundation for his or her central nervous system. The neural plate grows and forms into a neural tube. The neural tube divides into several distinct regions of the brain. Twenty days after conception the baby’s brain, spinal column and nervous system are virtually complete.
The baby’s nervous system consists of millions and millions of neurons, each with tiny branches. As these branches connect, synapses, a kind of communication from one nerve cell to another occurs. This communication between neurons allows for early fetal movements, these fetal movements are both spontaneous and voluntary. By week 8 the baby can wiggle his or her limbs and has developed a sense of touch. The baby’s face, arms and legs are sensitive to touch at week 11. The baby can turn her head, curl her toes, squint, hiccup, frown and smile by week 12. At week 13, babies’ facial expressions are similar to her parents. At week 16, babies can swim and turn somersaults. An expectant mother can anticipate feeling her baby’s movements, typically between the 18th and 22nd week of pregnancy.
Launched in 1996 through a state-sponsored initiative to lower abortion rates, Real Alternatives originally served women through 72 centers across Pennsylvania.