The moment a mom-to-be first feels her baby kick is unbelievable. It's the first tangible time a mom feels her baby living inside her, and it can make the pregnancy even more real. At first, baby's movements can feel like butterflies. But later, as the baby gets bigger, it can feel more intense. Sometimes it can feel like the baby is rocking and rolling, testing out his limbs and doing all kinds of strange exercises inside.
With the naked eye, it's hard to figure out what's going on inside mom's stomach. But thanks to ultrasound and other research techniques, doctors have figured out a lot about the weird world inside the uterus. The baby can do a lot of things that it can when it is a newborn, including smelling and tasting the food that is coming in. They practice breathing, suck their thumbs, even play with their umbilical cord. And any mom whose baby has had the hiccups knows what a strange sensation that can be.
All moms feel those movements and wonder and imagine what their little guy or gal is up to, and that's why this guide is so much fun.
Here are 15 things that babies do in mom's stomach that are weird as hell.
One of the first reflexes that newborns show after birth is that they startle. That's when a loud noise or sudden movement makes them spread out their hands and jerk as if they got spooked. But the weird thing is that babies even do that within the womb.
It happens kind of the same way it does when they are out of mom's tummy. They react to a loud noise like a siren or scream— yes, they can hear them and get scared just the same as they do after birth — and they also do it sometimes when mom makes a sudden movement they don't expect, such as plopping down on the couch. By the 20 week mark or so, moms can feel that sudden jerk, and it can make it feel like their womb is getting a jolt. It's definitely a whoa baby moment that can feel very strange — until you realize what's going on.
15 Listen And Learn
As we just mentioned, babies can actually hear in the womb, and while they are in there, they do a lot of listening and learning. By the end of the second semester, the baby's sense of hearing is pretty well developed, to the point where research shows that babies respond overwhelmingly to the sound of their mother's voice from the moment they are born.
Research has also shown that babies who are read to or sung to in the womb will recognize the tunes and tales after birth. And there is one study that shows that babies can even distinguish the language spoken at home from others. The beginnings of a baby's verbal skills are developed while he or she is listening and learning, and that is weird to even imagine since their ears have barely formed. As strange as it sounds, the uterus is the baby's first learning environment.
At first, it may seem like there isn't much that a baby can do inside mom's tummy. Unless they are a twin, they are in there by themselves, hanging out all alone for nine months. But babies can get creative even when they aren't fully cooked yet. It's weird, but they actually find some ways to play in the womb.
When baby gets rambunctious in mom's stomach, she may be wondering what's going on, but we only get a few clues through ultrasound. That amazing technology has actually captured children at play. Usually the biggest toy for a baby is the umbilical cord, but babies can also play with their hands and the placenta and anything else they can use creatively to play. If they have another compadre like a twin, they will interact throughout the pregnancy. So as weird as it seems, that weird movement mom felt might be the baby playing the lasso with the cord.
Mom's digestion goes crazy during pregnancy, so it makes sense that it can be a bit weird for the little one as well. The biggest symptom of that comes if the form of little tiny jumps in the womb over and over again. That weird sensation is the baby hiccuping.
Many babies begin hiccuping in the first trimester, although most first-time moms don't feel them that early. (Second and third-timers may feel them though, as they tend to feel the baby much earlier.) Most of the time, moms start feeling the hiccups around 27 weeks, according to Baby Center. Some just feel it once or twice — it can feel like little rhythmic jerks that almost give you the hiccups yourself. But some babies get them a lot. It can be a sign of an immature digestive system, which all babies have before they are born, of course, so it's not a surprise but definitely a weird feeling.
Moms-to-be wait with anticipation for baby's first breath. But the weird thing is that babies actually begin to practice breathing long before that magical moment at their birth. They swim around in their amniotic fluid, breathing that stuff in and out as if they are taking in air.
Moms generally don't feel anything when the baby is practicing its breathing while in her belly. But many ultrasounds have captured the strange moments. The baby can be seen drawing fluid in and out, with its little tiny chest going in and out. It can cause the baby's lungs to be filled with fluid, which comes out when he makes that first big cry at birth. Most of the time, the practice breathing helps in making sure the baby is healthy at birth, but it is weird to think the baby is breathing a liquid, when eventually he'll have to figure out how to do the same thing with air.
11 Scratch And Sniff
We've already talked about one of the baby's senses, but another one actually takes a strong position while the baby is in mom's stomach, and it actually helps determine the baby's health habits for the rest of his life. It's weird to thing, but the baby actually smells while in the womb. Studies have shown that babies react to the smell of cigarette smoke if someone lights up nearby — because we all think that stinks — and they also can catch the aromas of foods that mom eats.
The smell is passed on through the amniotic fluid, which often contains the traces of the food as it is filtered through the placenta. And because of that strong sniffer, babies whose moms eat a lot of garlic tend to like it themselves when they are bigger. The food preferences can last a lifetime. It may be weird to think about the baby smelling while in your stomach, but if a mom keeps that in mind, that will put an entirely new spin on her pregnancy diet, so she doesn't end up with a picky eater.
10 Big Yawn
Any mom who has dealt with bouts of baby kicking her stomach wouldn't be surprised to learn that babies go through periods of being sleep and awake while they are in the womb. But one other sign of that they may find strange is that fetuses actually yawn while in their mom's tummy.
Research studies show that just about every baby does it, but another weird thing about it is that the yawns don't necessarily indicate that the baby is sleepy. Scientists actually think that it has more to do with the nervous system. Babies tend to yawn less the closer they get to the day of their birth, so they think that means that body is getting more mature over time and that yawning is a kind of stimulus that helps achieve that maturity.
Scientists still don't know a lot about the life of babies while in mom's stomach, so it's no surprise that they aren't so sure about this strange explanation. After all, mom yawns a lot herself while the baby is growing inside her.
9 Make Faces
The yawn isn't the only way that babies move their faces while they are still in the womb. In fact, ultrasounds have revealed that babies make faces a lot while they are in their mother's stomach. They give their first smiles when no one is there to see them — although they get stingy with them after birth for a few weeks. And they also frown.
According to a United Kingdom study discussed in Live Science, babies are capable of making 19 facial movements in the third trimester, and they seemed to be crying or laughing when they made the movements. Babies have also been caught making a kind of "yuck" face to certain foods. It's weird to think that the baby may already be giving mom the side eye while she is still in the mom's tummy, but science has proven that it's entirely possible.
8 Cry Baby
Let us warn you: this next is not only weird but heart breaking. Unfortunately, scientists have documented babies crying while in the womb. It's really strange to think of it, but it's not just because of the facial expressions we just mentioned. They have also caught low sounds coming from the baby that sound like sobs muffled by the amniotic fluid.
We don't know why a baby would be unhappy, safe in his mother's belly. Thanks to the placenta and the umbilical cord, the baby doesn't lack for nutrients, and it doesn't have to worry about diapers because it doesn't poop until after birth (or right before it). But teeny, tiny babies have emotions just like the rest of us. It's sad to think that mom can't do anything to make the baby feel better, but it's just another weird thing the baby does while in his mother's stomach.
7 Thumb Sucking
Some moms may worry about whether their little one will suck their thumb and cause them to need braces. But weirdly, they can't stop it because baby actually starts long before birth. Babies are oral creatures, and that starts while they are still in the womb. After birth, they will put just about anything in their mouth — from their favorite toy to a gross dust-covered piece of trash they find under the couch. And of course, their fingers are a favorite to help them settle down and get to sleep.
Babies already have that tendency while they are in their mom's stomach, but they have fewer options as to what they can get in their mouth. Mostly, they have their fingers and thumbs, so they take full advantage and begin to suck on them. Via ultrasound, doctors have observed babies soothing themselves with their thumb in the same way that they do with a pacifier later on. It's a habit that starts oddly early.
6 Just A Taste
Baby's tongue and mouth are formed early, and by nine weeks, they even have teeny tiny taste buds. Moms-to-be may think that those things are just sitting and waiting until the baby has his first spoonful of mashed banana. But strange enough, they start to taste things long before that first bit of solid food comes four to six months after birth. It starts as early as the first trimester.
We've mentioned before that baby's smell while in the womb, and in the same fashion, they develop their sense of taste. They ingest the amniotic fluid to taste traces of mom's fluid. And the weirdest part is that ultrasounds have captured babies licking the placenta when mom eats one of their favorite foods. Many moms wouldn't be surprised so much by the fluid part, but the licking is so off the wall that it doesn't seem likely in the uterus, but it certainly happens.
5 Sweet Dreams
We've talked about a lot of things that babies do in the womb when they are awake, but just like newborns, babies actually sleep a lot while they are their mother's stomach. By 32 weeks, they actually sleep more than 90 percent of the time. Yet, most mothers know that there is still a lot going on inside even when the baby is sleeping.
Research has shown that babies are often in a state of quiet alertness, but sometimes they are dreaming. We don't know what babies dream about in utero — maybe it's their mom's lullabies or what that thing that keeps making the meow sound must feel look like. But research has shown that babies goes through REM, which is the rapid eye movement that happens in deep sleep for grown ups as well. It's weird to think about what a fetus could dream about, but the evidence shows that is what is going on in mom's belly.
4 Learn The Beat
We've already mentioned how babies can hear while they are in mom's stomach, but did you know that they also start to dance? Many moms swear that is what is going on when they feel the beat, but it is actually the truth. Babies are naturally musical, and that starts early, long before their birth.
Research has shown that as babies are learning to control their movements, they will tend to make them sync up with the beat of songs. They also can feel the emotion in the tunes, getting happy to music that jives and upset at the more angsty emo songs. That connection can start early, and the baby may even develop a favorite type of music based on what he hears the most in the womb, just like he starts to prefer certain foods. So for moms who bust a move, their baby is dancing right along in their belly.
3 Clap Back
All moms know that babies kick in the womb, and it is a sign that the baby is healthy and active. They like to feel the movements and try to get their loved ones to pat the belly and feel a kick too. Some make a game with their husband every night, trying to push on the belly until the baby kicks back. But according to doctors, it is true — babies clap back.
Babies actually learn to anticipate touch before they are born. That's something like lifting their hand to their mouth and opening the mouth to receive it at the same time. The first phase is by reacting to a stimulus, such as the poke that jolts their little legs, and then kicking right on back. It's a part of the brain development that is a big deal. While it may be weird to think that the baby is actually sparring with mom and dad while still in the belly, it's actually a good thing.
2 They Touch Themselves
One of the most profound ways for people to understand anything about the world around them is through the sense of touch. It's how blind people see and how everyone makes their way through a room in the dark. It's very important, even, for an unborn baby to acclimate themselves and start to understand their own bodies. It's actually the first sense for babies to develop, starting around eight weeks with the face and later on in the hands and feet, abdomen and then all around.
Babies touch themselves while they are in their mother's stomach, figuring out how their arms and legs work, touching their face and even more. In fact, some research suggests that babies even touch their genitals and may even masturbate while still in utero. It's not about pleasure as much as about learning about the body and how it works. But it's still weird to think that is what is going on inside a mom's belly. Luckily, no one can see it, so we can just pretend it doesn't happen.
1 Feel Stress
A baby may not know to worry where their next meal is coming from — after all, it's coming through the placenta and umbilical cord whether mom has eaten or not — but somehow, they still feel stress inside the womb.
According to research, some of baby's movements inside his mother's stomach may be based on the stress that the mom is feeling. They touch their face more with their left hand the more stress the mom goes through, according to the most recent study. And doctors also think that the stress on mom has an impact on the baby's growth and development and mental outlook. With so much pressure on mom to produce a healthy baby, it's not only weird to know that baby is reacting to stress, but it actually may bring on more stress itself.
That's why sometimes it's fun to imagine life inside mom's belly, but sometimes it's better to just acknowledge that it's weird and move on to obsessing what the baby will be like after the birth.
Sources: Today's Parent, Baby Center, Live Science, WebMD