As an English learner it is difficult for a person to understand the terms like 'embryo' and 'fetus'... thus can we use the home-made term 'undeveloped child' for an embryo or fetus? Will that fit best?

Actually the thing that confuses me as a reader is that 'undeveloped child' may mean "a child who isn't grown up well" or "a child who's not taken well care of, as far as grooming and learning are concerned"... so if you say:

She lost an undeveloped child before giving him birth.

Will it let the reader or listener understand that the talk is about a baby lost during pregnancy?
And also, Can a fetus be called a baby?"


Embryo and fetus are used as technical terms in science. An unborn child is called an embryo for the first 9 weeks after fertilization, and a fetus (or foetus) starting in the 10th week.

In general terms, an embryo is the stage between being a ball of cells (a zygote) and having all the organs formed. A fetus looks like a small baby, an embryo looks strange.

In general terms, it is common to talk about an "unborn child" or "unborn baby". These would be the terms to use. Don't use "underdeveloped". In context "child" or "baby" are also acceptable:

She lost her baby before giving birth.

She named her unborn child "Jo", before knowning if it was a boy or girl.

The foetus gestates in the womb for about 30 weeks.

The terms "unborn baby" or "foetus" also have some political meaning, in the abortion debate. People who would ban abortion tend to use the more emotional "baby" rather than "foetus". So be aware of a need to be sensitive.

  • @ James K Let me add one point here that by 'losing the baby' I mean a miscarriage; will this [She lost her baby before giving birth.] do? – xeesid Sep 26 '19 at 6:18
  • 1
    xeesid - not "before giving birth". She lost her baby. A miscarriage is a form of "birth", although, sadly, the baby is not alive. – Michael Harvey Sep 26 '19 at 12:43

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