One of the most exciting things about being pregnant is imagining what the child will be like. Contradictorily, at the same time, while a child is gestating. it can be stressful to not have all the information that's needed to know that the baby is going to be healthy once they are born. Worrying seems to be an unfortunate side-effect of parenting, and it starts shortly after a woman first sees the positive pregnancy test.
Thanks to modern medicine and testing we can know more about baby than ever, before they are even born. New tests, studies, and more have revealed that there are many things parents can learn about their children, and ways that parents can familiarize them with their families, better helping them to bond, all while they are in the womb.
There are many ways parents can bond with their children and learn how to better prepare their homes for their arrival because of what can be found out ahead of time. While nothing is going to beat meeting the child for the first time or discovering the wonderful person they become while they grow up, there’s something to be said about getting armed with as much knowledge as one can to better parent the new little bundle of joy. Here are 20 things mom can learn about her baby before they’re even born!
20 a positive? b negative?
DNA testing has allowed for doctors to better protect both baby and mom from Rhesus disease, something that happens in about one in 100 pregnancies, when mothers with a negative blood type are having a child with a positive blood type, and mom’s body creates antibodies that will attack the maturing child’s red blood cells. This testing can now happen early in pregnancy and allow for lower risk testing and for baby to have umbilical cord blood transfusions to help prevent baby from being born prematurely.
19 Singleton vs. Multiples
There are many early signs that can indicate suspicion of a multiple pregnancy, whether it be the speed that the HCG rises on blood tests, or large measurements in the first trimester, but it’s usually the first ultrasound that confirms whether there are one, two, or more baby’s housed in mom’s womb. At this time ultrasound technicians will be able to determine if babies are fraternal or identical twins. I will never forget finding out that I was having twins, and thankfully I found out early enough to have a full five months to prepare for life with multiples.
18 Gender (obviously)
Whether you want it to be a surprise the day they arrive, or from the word of an ultrasound technician or doctor because of some blood work to examine their DNA, finding out the gender of your child is one of the first points of insights into who they will be. While ultrasound technicians can’t give 100 percent guarantee of a baby’s gender, DNA tests are much more reliable. So, get out those name lists, and get ready to pick out that perfect name for your little girl or boy!
17 Favourite Foods: how do they react when you eat them?
We’ve all heard about avoiding spicy food because of baby, but if you still like to indulge in spicy cuisine while pregnant, you may be inadvertently training your child to enjoy foods with a little more heat. Some scientific research shows that babies (humans and other mammals) learn taste preferences while they are in the uterus. A small study of 33 children revealed that moms who indulged in garlic while pregnant had children at eight or nine years old who were more likely to enjoy eating garlic potatoes.
16 How They React to Mom's Touch
Ever notice how pregnant women rub their baby bump often, this is an instinct, and guess what? Baby can feel mom’s touch. From the fourth month of pregnancy on when mom rubs her belly it relaxes both mom and baby. Around 20 weeks babies feel this touch, and this can be an amazing way to connect with them. Take note of how baby responds to your touch when you find yourself instinctually connecting and participating in this bonding ritual with your little bean!
15 Sleep Patterns
Since there is no light in your uterus baby sleeps whenever they are tired. How active baby is during times of the day can be a solid suggestion of when they’ll be most likely to rest (or not) during the fourth trimester or first three months outside of the womb. While many feel there is no scientific evidence of this, and that no real sleep pattern will emerge until baby is a few months old, babies do in fact begin sleep cycles where they rest for a few hours, and then are more actively awake while still in the womb.
14 Reaction Patterns
You aren’t just imagining it, baby is reacting to you, the sounds, voices, stresses, and other influences going on in the world outside. Baby will begin to kick to certain voices, jump when you jump, and feel many of the same things you do. Baby can respond in utero just as they would as an infant. Some parents find it fun to keep a note of things that make baby kick and see how it compares to their reaction during their first few months after birth.
13 How much hair they have
There’s an old legend that if mom has a lot of heartburn than she’ll give birth to a baby with a full head of hair. Growth of hair occurs in the last two months of pregnancy, and many parents may be able to get a view of baby’s hair thanks to improved resolutions on ultrasound equipment. According to University of Wisconsin baby’s hair will be increasingly important on examining baby’s development, “researchers have used infant hair to examine the hormonal environment to which the fetus was exposed during development and it promises to yield a wealth of new information.”
12 Organ development
Throughout pregnancy a mom will have several ultrasounds, more if they are deemed to have a high-risk pregnancy. As a twin mother I went in for an ultrasound every week for the last trimester of my pregnancy, with one measurement leading to steroid injections to help develop my babies’ lungs. Thanks to advanced ultrasound technology, technicians can measure baby’s development of organs, limbs, and more, during routine ultrasounds. This allows for early intervention when something doesn’t seem right to help protect both mom and baby.
11 Down Syndrome Screening
Parents often have the choice as to whether they want to have Down Syndrome screening completed early in their pregnancy. In the time-frame of 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, doctors can examine and measure the back of baby’s neck to determine whether there are folds or thick skin, which have been associated with heightened risks of Down Syndrome. Often a blood sample is taken during the same period for further testing – however if you are carrying multiple babies this blood testing is inconclusive and will not likely happen.
10 Spina Bifida Testing
Spina Bifida screening takes place using blood samples from 16-18 weeks into pregnancy. Moms are encouraged to take folic acid before they start trying to get pregnant, and throughout their pregnancy to decrease baby’s chances of developing this neural tube disorder where the spinal column of a baby does not close completely during the first month of pregnancy. Spina bifida damages the nerves and spinal cord which means people with Spina bifida may require crutches, braces, or wheelchairs for mobility in their life.
9 Musical Tastes
A good soundtrack is vital to a fantastic car trip, but can also be important to babies, who respond positively to their favourite songs. Many studies show that although babies hear music as muffled noise while in the womb, they respond to music. The same studies show that classical music can help soothe baby and mom. Baby will continue to respond to the songs mom and the rest of the family listen to after he or she is born. So maybe that bath with some Bach isn’t such a bad way to relax during the third trimester.
8 How Baby Thinks & Sees the World
New brain research currently underway by United Kingdom scientists is going to examine how a child’s neural network forms in a baby before they are even born. The brain scans conducted in this six-year study are going to provide a snap shot of what is changing in a baby’s developing brain. Lead researcher, Prof David Edwards says, "There are a distressing number of children in our society who grow up with problems because of things that happen to them around the time of birth or just before birth. It is very important to be able to scan babies before they are born because we can capture a period when an awful lot is changing inside the brain.” The hope is that this monitoring will help medical professionals better understand how they can intervene when this development is not progressing as it should.
7 Facial Features
More and more, people are paying to have 3D and 4D ultrasounds to see more delicate details of their baby’s facial features before they are born. Since this is a relatively new technology, some are skeptical as to whether or not this is safe, and it is deemed generally to be. However, parents should consider that the American Institute for Ultrasound Medicine warn that too much exposure to any form of ultrasound (be it regular, 3D, or 4D) may not be good for your baby, particularly since these services are often offered at establishments outside of hospitals, and there is less knowledge surrounding the skill level of the technician there, compared to at a medical facility.
6 Cleft Palate or Cleft Lip
A cleft palate is when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn’t form properly during pregnancy. Lips form early on in pregnancy, during the fourth and seventh week, while the roof of the mouth forms during the sixth through ninth week. Children with cleft palate or cleft lip may have trouble feeding or speaking and may be more prone to ear infections. Cleft palate is generally recognized during routine ultrasound screening but may also be diagnosed when a child is older. There are many treatments and services for children with this, and surgery to repair it usually happens in the first few months up to a year of a child’s life.
5 Things You Can Teach Them
Baby doesn’t just love the sound of your voice, they can also recognize patterns in stories should you decide to read to them. Baby learns to relax when you relax. This means that if you enjoy unwinding by binge-watching episodes of Gilmore Girls, odds are baby is going to also feel like relaxing when he or she hears the fast-talking antics of Lorelai and Rory. While many prenatal and early childhood development experts feel that the act of growing is enough hard work for a baby, there’s no harm in cranking up your favourite tunes or letting your little one get an audio tour of all your favourite sounds.
4 Comforting Sounds (and Stressors)
Baby experts and moms agree that there are benefits to mom talking to her unborn baby as babies can begin to tell voices apart from inside the womb. Language and communication skills begin while baby is in mom’s belly, and this is one of the reasons why children often react differently and calm down to the soothing sound of their mother’s (and other) familiar voices. Consider filling your prenatal world with soothing sounds and conversation as it will benefit both you and baby!
3 Birth Defects (Trisomy 18 & 13)
Both these chromosomal conditions are associated with intellectual and physical disabilities. Both occur when a baby is born with three copies of the 18th or 13th chromosome instead of the standard two. Babies with Trisomy 18 (also called Edwards syndrome) or 13 often miscarry or won’t live beyond the first month after birth as this abnormality causes baby’s organs to develop abnormally. Around one in five thousand babies are born with Trisomy 18, most of whom are female.
2 How They Feel About Siblings
Mom feels connected to baby more often because they are growing inside her. Getting other members of the family, particularly your partner and baby’s siblings is a great way to have them connect. Having big brother or sister talk to baby, feel their kicks, or even attending doctors’ appointments to see their ultrasound images, or hear their heartbeat will set the stage for a stronger bond after birth. Baby can feel the difference between mom and big sister’s hand on her belly as early as 20 weeks, so nip that sibling rivalry in the bud!
1 Chromosomal Conditions
Prenatal tests can determine the risk for baby having birth defects or genetic disorders. This can be particularly helpful for screening when genetic conditions run in one parent’s family. Increased testing is suggested for parents who are older than 35, have medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or autoimmune disorders. While these tests can tell you the risk of specific disorders and diseases they cannot give a definite answer until other follow-up diagnostics are held following a high-risk revealing test. Common conditions include Down Syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, Huntington’s Disease, or Cystic Fibrosis.