As you go through your pregnancy, your unborn baby’s development is astounding. It’s truly amazing what women’s bodies do to create an entire human being. As a fetus grows bigger, their brain is also developing all of that intricate and complex wiring to help them survive and thrive outside the womb.
What all of this means is that your baby develops an awareness of the outside world before they are even born. And believe it or not, there are things your baby will enjoy while still nestled snugly inside your womb. Many of these things will also benefit the mother-baby bond.
Some of these experiences can happen quite naturally and others require a little more deliberate thinking. But none-the-less, here we discuss 15 different things that your unborn baby will absolutely love!
15 Different Flavors
Believe it or not, your baby begins to taste different flavors between 13-15 weeks gestation. Your baby swallows amniotic fluid throughout your pregnancy. That is how he/she is so well versed at swallowing from the moment of birth. Given that your amniotic fluid takes on the taste of whatever you eat, baby gets to sample it, too.
Some flavors are too mild for baby to detect but some stronger flavors, like garlic, are transferred to the amniotic fluid within 45 minutes of mom ingesting them.
Babies are naturally predisposed to sweeter tastes to bias them towards breast milk. That said, research has shown that a baby’s taste preferences are shaped in utero. The foods you eat are likely to influence what he/she will or won’t like down the road.
Eating a wide range of flavorful and healthy foods is the best course of action to ensure you raise a “good” eater. That said, don’t stress about giving into your unhealthy cravings from time to time. Your baby will definitely enjoy the range of tastes you provide.
14 Mom’s Happiness and Excitement
Your fetus feels your mood. That is why it’s so important to keep stress levels in check while you are pregnant. High stress levels can increase the chances of things like stillbirth, low baby weight, and premature birth. But the effects of mood also work the other way as well. When mom is sad, your unborn baby is sad, and when mom is happy, your unborn baby is happy, too.
We understand by now that almost everything that passes through an expectant mom gets passed through to the fetus as well. Just like a baby can feel stress hormones, so too can they feel happy hormones. When people are in a happy state of mind they release “happiness” hormones including endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin.
As a result, the baby will feel the effects of the hormones and feel happy, too. As such, your baby likes it when you are happy. Amazing, isn’t it?
13 Mom’s Voice
As your unborn baby is developing, he/she will learn the sound of your voice. This is an important part of baby/mommy bonding because by the time your babe is born, he/she will be attuned to the sound of your voice.
By about 25-26 weeks gestation, your baby will respond to noises he/she hears outside the womb. Mom’s voice is the clearest because of the vibration that travels down to the baby from inside your body. It has been shown that fetal heart rate slows down in response to mom’s voice, suggesting that not only do they recognize your voice but also feel reassured by it.
Studies have also demonstrated that newborn babies respond to their mother’s voices unlike those of other people, indicating they do build some degree of memory inside the womb.
Talking or reading to your baby is a great way to develop a relationship with him/her before birth. It also helps to make the reality of motherhood sink in.
12 Mom’s Orgasms
Many couples shy away from sex during pregnancy. Unless your doc advises against it, there really isn’t any reason to avoid it. There is NO possible way your unborn baby is going to get poked, prodded or harmed during the act--no matter how well endowed Dad thinks he is. The baby is safely tucked deep in your uterus with the mucous plug doing its fabulous job.
In fact, there is some research to suggest your baby will feel the same sense of euphoria you feel when you have an orgasm. This doesn’t mean your baby is having an orgasm or any sexual feelings--not at all--so don’t be creeped out. They simply are, by proxy, feeling a rush of hormones courtesy of you.
You may find you are ultra-orgasmic during pregnancy thanks to the increased blood flow and fluids in your nether regions. This is not harmful to the baby and he/she might even enjoy it.
11 A Warm Bath
Pregnant women should not have hot baths as this can increase the body temperature, which can be harmful to the fetus. But a thumbs up is given to warm baths. Just make sure the temperature doesn’t go above your normal body temperature of 98.6 F.
Unborn babies can sense an external change in temperature when they are big enough to be pressed up against mom’s belly skin. So what will baby feel if you are taking a warm bath? Truth be told, they won’t feel much of a sensation due to the bath water itself but they will enjoy the sense of relaxation that flows through your body as a result of the soak.
Further, you may find the baby squirming around based on the noise of the rushing water. And watch what happens when your pour water over your exposed belly--you might see your baby reacting to the sensation and the sound.
10 Voices of Dad and Siblings
Baby also enjoys hearing other voices while inside the womb, including those of family members other than mom. It turns out that deeper voices are easier to discern inside the womb, which gives dad a leg up.
Research has also shown that babies suck more vigorously when they hear recordings in their native language, suggesting their native tongue is familiar and preferred. All the chatter outside the womb helps them to learn and understand the intonation and sound combinations of their native language.
The everyday conversations that baby will hear are enough to start to prepare him/her for the outside world. For this reason, you don’t have to concern yourself with the whole family having conversation time with your belly on a daily basis. That said, it is a really nice way for others to bond with the baby, especially where older brothers and sisters are concerned.
9 Belly Rubs
By as early as eight weeks gestation, your baby has begun to develop touch receptors. It will be later in the pregnancy before your baby is big and developed enough to feel your touch from outside the womb but when this happens around 20 weeks, he/she may enjoy your belly rubs.
In fact, studies have shown that babies like to be touched in the womb. Think about how comforting touch can be to all of us. The same holds true for your unborn fetus. In fact, this research suggests that unborn babies respond the most favorably towards touch over music or voices.
This is a really nice way to bond with your bump and to get dad involved in the action as well. You can think of it as an infant massage. It’s also the perfect opportunity to take a time out yourself and treat your growing belly to a little TLC with massage creams or oils.
8 Playing with Mom
You can even take belly rubs one step further by playing with your little one through touch. When your babe gets big enough for you see the distinct lump of a heel or hand protruding from your own bump, interact with your baby via play. This is going to be the closest thing you will get to a two-way interaction until after your baby is born.
Gently push or rub on the body part you feel and watch your baby respond. He/she will likely draw back before settling into a similar position again. Your turn! Your baby will enjoy the back and forth interaction with you.
Siblings, in particular, will enjoy this game. You can even elevate it to try to determine which body part is poking out where. Just make sure older children don’t take it too far. There is no harm as long as they don’t get too rambunctious.
Exposing an unborn baby to music has long been something expectant mothers are encouraged to do. The idea behind it is that the child will be more likely to have a love of music and, in particular, will prefer the music they heard in the womb.
Studies have shown several benefits to prenatal music. First, it can stimulate the senses and encourage brain development; second, it can produce serotonin and endorphins in the mom which are transferred to the baby; and third, playing the same music post-birth can be helpful in establishing healthy sleep routines for your baby.
Of course, the music has to be at an appropriate volume. It’s probably unnecessary to secure headphones across your belly. Music at a moderate volume outside the womb can be heard within. Some parents think classical music is best but we think a variety is most appropriate. Your baby may even get his/her groove on.
6 Mom Resting
Part of the reason your unborn baby LOVES it when you rest is because that’s when they get busy! Oftentimes your busy movements through the day lull the baby to sleep so when you are just about ready to hit the sack, baby decides to bust a move. When you rest is a great time for them to practice their acrobatics because none of your movements and activity during the day are inhibiting their motions.
This can be troubling for you, as a future mom, if the pokes, jabs, and kicks keep you awake. Don’t worry, though--your baby will get tired out and soon let you rest, too. By the end of gestation, your unborn baby will actually pass through sleep cycles of roughly 70-90 minutes so you know as your near delivery, there will be some patterns to their daily activity.
Truth-be-told, this lack of sleep is helping to prepare you for the reality of parenthood.
While your baby will enjoy the change in activity level as you move about, the real benefit for him/her with respect to exercise during pregnancy is the impact on the heart. Obviously, any exercise should be appropriate, safe, and approved by your doctor but the benefits can be lasting to your baby. The ideal, suggested amount of exercise for a pregnant mom is roughly 150 minutes per week.
It is reported that the heart of a baby from a pregnant woman who did cardio exercise regularly may be healthier than the hearts of babies whose moms didn’t exercise during pregnancy. The exercise can make a baby’s heart more efficient, which can last through childhood. The fetus of a mom who exercises may also have a lower heart rate. Why is this good? Well, a higher heart rate means fetal distress so a lower heart rate is a good sign.
Even if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, you can start now. You’ll need to start slowly and consult your physician but it’s a perfect opportunity to start taking even better care of yourself as you prepare for all that motherhood throws at you.
4 Fueling Up
Not only will your baby enjoy different flavors in the womb, you also might notice that he/she will experience a burst of activity after you finish a meal or have something to drink.
Your baby isn’t eating per se but what you eat is shared with your baby via blood sugar through your amniotic fluid. Remember everything mom experiences, the baby experiences, too. This is why, if mom hasn’t felt the baby kick in a while, it is recommended that she has something to eat or drink to spur some activity.
Just like we get a burst of energy after eating or drinking, so to do unborn babies. They enjoy flexing their limbs and practicing different actions in the womb and the fuel you provide enables this to happen. You may notice different levels of activity after you consume different things. Keeping track can be helpful especially if you decide to have a late night snack.
3 Mixing Things Up
As you attempt to expose your unborn baby to different things, it can’t hurt to mix it up. This can be beneficial to baby and will be more interesting and exciting for you for a couple of reasons. First, it will combat your boredom, and second, you’ll also be able to see if your baby responds differently with kicks and pokes based on what you are doing.
Perhaps some of your rhythmic activity puts them to sleep or into a quiet and calm mode. Or perhaps you’ll notice a burst of activity after something you are doing.
The link between what the fetus is exposed to in utero and brain development is not clearly understood but as long as what you are doing is safe, there is no harm in it. Trying to prepare your baby for the world by acclimatizing them as much as you can beforehand makes sense.
2 Other Bonding Activities
Your baby will enjoy other activities that you do in an effort to bond with him/her. For example, you might try meditating, prenatal yoga, dancing, or reading to your babe. Many of the elements we’ve already mentioned in this article represent strong bonding activities.
All of these activities promote your overall well-being, and thereby the baby’s as well. Making a connection with your baby before he/she arrives will help to promote your bond when it comes time for meeting your newest family member.
Carista Luminare-Rosen, Ph.D, writes in her book Parenting Begins Before Conception: A Guide to Preparing Body, Mind, and Spirit for You and Your Future Child that babies are capable of sensing mom’s love in the womb. This is pretty incredible. As a result, it stands to reason that anything mom does that communicates this love to their baby will benefit both and promote a healthy and warm attachment after birth.
1 Mom’s Laughter
A research project in Psychology Today studied fetuses on ultrasounds and witnessed that when pregnant women laugh, their unborn babies bounce up and down. This, in turn, causes the women to laugh harder and, of course,the fetus bounces harder, too. The researchers likened the motion to someone bouncing up and down on a trampoline.
Part of baby’s motion is likely the reaction to small muscle contractions caused by mom’s chortles but it’s nice to think the baby is in on the joke, too. If you have another ultrasound scheduled, you should try this experiment.
Given that unborn babies benefit from mom’s “happiness” hormones, we can only assume the same thing happens in spades when mom is laughing. Laughter is such a great antidote to so many things and can be great to combat pregnancy stress. Now, of course, there is even more reason to make sure laughter is a part of your pregnancy. Your fetus thinks it’s awesome.