Amazing – that’s what pregnancies really are. I mean, just think of it; there’s a whole new life growing inside you. Just keep the struggles of pregnancy aside for a while; think beyond the morning sickness, the cramp you keep feeling in your leg, and those bloated feelings and imagine growing a life inside you. That’s just wow.
As a mom, it is completely natural for you to want to go through every single book, website and app out there that would tell you about the growth and development of your baby. Moving on in your pregnancy, you will also find yourself wondering what your precious little angel is up to inside your womb. Is s/he bored? What is s/he doing in there? Surprisingly, many women think that their baby is just chilling out in the womb, sitting idly and doing nothing – just waiting on and on for the time to come when they’ll be born. But that isn’t right, because every single moment that your baby spends in your womb is one that s/he is developing, growing, and doing things that will help him/her cope with the outside world. Believe it or not, there are plenty of things that babies do in the womb – things that might even shock you. Not only do they move their fingers, they breathe, react to stress, cry and even taste the food that you just ate. Well, I’ll stop the mystery here; read on to find out about all that is keeping your baby busy in the womb:
7 #: Babies practice their facial expressions in the womb
A number of researches, such as those at the Durham and Lancaster Universities, have been performed by scientists over time to figure out whether babies have any facial expressions in the womb or not. Well, their studies showed that babies have what you can call ‘two dimensional’ facial expressions by the time they reach the 24 weeks mark. What this means is that they can do things like curling their mouths to achieve a bit of a smile. However, things become more and more interesting as they continue to develop with time. By the 36th week of their life, babies have far more complex facial expressions. These are typically inclusive of:
- -Wrinkling their noses
- -Stretching their mouths
- -Lowering their eyebrows as a means of expressing ‘pain’
Although a majority of babies show off their first gummy little smiles to their parents when they are around six to eight weeks old, the fact of the matter is that they practice this winning smile way before it. The thing with babies is that they wish to communicate with their parents, and hence have the ability to express their feelings right upon birth. This is particularly possible for babies because they have long been practicing these expressions in their mothers’ wombs. With time, you will notice that your baby attempts to imitate your facial expressions, which goes on to show the mastery they hold over the art of putting up facial expressions.
Considering that babies are fast learners, it is highly recommended for you to make the most of the moment and encourage your baby to communicate with you through his/her facial expressions. In order to do so, talk to him/her (you can sing too) by holding your angel around 30cm apart from you. While talking or singing, pass lots of smiles at her, but make sure that all of this is done when she is alert, but in a more so calm mood.
Also, if your baby doesn’t appear to be a rather ‘smiley’ one, don’t fret over things – there’s a good chance that the little one is putting in his/her best efforts to coordinate his/her movements!
6 #: Babies develop a taste for all that you eat
This is perhaps one of the most interesting things that babies do in their mothers’ wombs. The taste of the foods that a mother eats tends to seep into the amniotic fluid (such science there!!), thereby enabling the baby to taste them as well. From what is known, this is perhaps a means of having the baby all prepared and ready to taste the different flavors of the food that s/he will get to eat after making an entrance into the world.
It is now a well-known fact that sweet flavors and those of ginger, garlic and anise have the potential to change the overall flavor of the amniotic fluid. By the time that a baby is about 13-15 weeks old, s/he will typical prefer sweet flavors in the amniotic fluid. When the amniotic fluid is sweet, babies tend to swallow more amniotic fluid, and less when they find that the taste is a bit bitter. Moreover, the flavors that a baby tastes by gulping down amniotic fluid actually rub off on them too, together with their mothers’ food preference. A research study actually showed that mothers who eat carrots on a regular basis eventually gave birth to babies who loved eating carrots as compared to mothers who did not consume vegetables regularly.
The 13 to 15 weeks mark of your pregnancy is when your baby is going to have his/her taste buds developed. It is from this point onwards that s/he is going to taste the flavor of just about every food that you eat. However, the foods that particularly have their flavor get seeped into the amniotic fluid include spices, garlic, curries and most pungent meals. But the good part is that nature is focused on preparing your baby to like the taste of breast milk, which is why the little ones’ taste buds prefer sweet tastes over bitter ones. By the time that you get into the third trimester of your pregnancy, your little one will be swallowing about a liter of amniotic fluid on a daily basis. With the different flavors of the food that you eat present in the amniotic fluid, your baby is adequately prepared for the taste of breast milk, which also tends to contain flavors from the foods that are a part of your diet.
5 #: Babies pee in the womb
If you’re 30+ weeks pregnant and have to go to the bathroom very frequently, there’s a good chance that you will not find the entire notion of your baby peeing in the womb to be overly amazing. However, take my advice and give this one a bit of a chance. Seriously, with your baby on the way, it is high time that you get yourself to pee. Why? Well, for the simple reason that once your angel arrives, you will be dealing with A LOT OF pee. In order to master those peeing skills, your little one has already started practicing in your womb.
You got that right. As gross as it sounds, there’s a tiny little baby inside of you who is peeing away in your womb. In the last few weeks of the first trimester, your baby’s body is going to get busy and start producing urine. See, babies swallow amniotic fluid, which is then digested and moved on to the kidneys to filter. After that, the baby urinates the fluid back into the uterus and once again, the entire procedure is repeated. Yes, babies actually swallow their own urine, which makes me wonder that every single one of us have drunk out own pee. Oh. My. God. Why did that have to dawn upon me? Disgusted forever!
But here’s the catch. An unborn baby’s urine happens to be quite unlike the urine that children pass after being born. Although there is a small amount of urea in it, cleanup duty for this particular bit of nitrogenous waste is performed by the mother’s body; hence the increased visits to the loo for you. Also, unborn baby pee doesn’t have its normal yellowish appearance considering that babies in the womb do not have the enzymes required for the conversion of bile pigments to urobilin.
So why is it that babies swallow their own urine? Well, it is more so a recycling process through which they make regular contributions to the environment of the womb. This recycling process assists to avert the onset of a rather dangerous condition called ‘polyhydramnios’, and even if it sounds real gross, bear in mind that unborn baby urine isn’t a tad bit harmful for the little ones. Research even suggests that it plays a vital role in the development of their digestive and urinary tract systems.
4 #: Babies cry those silent cries in the womb
Alright, finding this out just broke my heart. I mean just imagine. Your precious little baby crying a silent cry in your womb – it just shatters my heart. Scientists actually video recorded a few ultrasounds that were performed in the third trimester wherein the babies were startled with a low-decibel noise played against their mother’s abdomen. Upon doing so, it was noticed that the babies in-vitro displayed normal crying behavior. The babies actually opened their mouths, gasped irregularly and depressed their tongues, hence cried. The cutest part is that in the video recorded ultrasound, scientists were even able to spot those precious little quivering lower lip.
As we all know, crying is the most important communication tool for babies from the moment they are born. Children use crying as a means of expressing things like hunger, fear and a whole lot more. To them, it is the most effective means of communication and being able to cry in the womb is perhaps nature’s ways of helping them learn how to communicate with others once they are born. Considering how important a role crying plays in the life of a baby, they need all the practice in the world so as to master this particular communication skill and hence, they end up doing so in utero.
Scientists have explained that the sort of emotional turmoil that is needed for babies to start crying already exists in the womb. It can actually be audible in case air reaches around the larynx of the baby, but that is an extremely rare condition. For this reason, crying in utero has actually been given the name ‘vagitus uterinus’. For clarification purposes, that means, in a literal sort of a way, squalling in the womb.
Babies in utero have the ability to show many different emotions. As I have already mentioned in point # 1, they practice facial expressions, and with that, they also practice crying. It is actually a wonder that nature gives these tiny little angels such an ability through which they get all prepped up to make an entry into this world, all packed with the best communication skills for their age – that’s enough to melt anyone’s heart, right?
3 #: Hiccups, hiccups and more hiccups
Awww, doesn’t that sound cute? Of course it does! Babies in utero tend to start hiccupping right from the first trimester, but as there isn’t much development to boast of yet, these typically remain unfelt. To be honest, feeling these hiccups isn’t really necessary – some women never feel their baby’s hiccups, whereas there are those too who experience the same on a daily basis.
The phenomenon of a baby having hiccups in the womb is known as ‘fetal hiccupping’, and has actually been validated with the help of ultrasounds. These are actually felt in the form of rhythmic movements and occur mostly in the late second or early third trimester. What’s most interesting is that babies actually hiccup right from the late first trimester, but you will not be able to feel them considering how early a developmental stage it is.
For some out there, there happen to be several episodes of hiccupping all through the day, making them feel a few rhythmic movements. On the other hand, there are other women too who claim just noticing their babies’ hiccups every now and then only. But no matter how, when or how frequently you feel these, rest-assured that your baby is busy hiccupping away in utero, and perhaps that is the reason why newborns tend to have so many hiccups on a regular basis.
Now, you’re definitely going to wonder why fetal hiccupping occurs. Well, I’ll be honest here, scientists and researchers haven’t really been bothered much about it, so there are mere speculations for you to ponder upon. To begin with, you need to know that it is only mature babies (or fetuses as they like to call them) that have hiccups in the womb. This is because they have an adequately developed central nervous system, which enables them to do so. what basically happens is that the baby drinks amniotic fluid, which enters (and later exits from) the lungs. Once there, the diaphragm somewhat contracts, which leads to a cute little fetal hiccup within the womb and a fluttery little movement for you to feel – oh, and these are completely normal so there isn’t a thing for you to worry about!
2 #: They start anticipating touch
That’s right! Extensive research carried out at the University of Durham by means of 4D ultrasound scans has shown that by the third trimester, babies are actually able to open their mouths in response to directed movements. What does that mean? To put it in simple words, by the third trimester, babies master the art of heading their hands towards their mouth for some quality thumb sucking time!
The research was basically carried out by scientists as a means of learning about the movements of babies during the third trimester and this finding sure must have took them by surprise. The thing with babies in the womb is that they acquire the ability to predict, instead of merely react to the movements of their hands towards their mouths. It is believed that babies touching the lower parts of the mouths and faces indicate adequate brain development that is required for the health of the baby in the womb. Apart from that, it also depicts that the baby is preparing well for self-soothing, social interaction, and most importantly, feeding. It is because of these movement practicing sessions in the womb that babies, even those who are born prematurely, are fairly ready to interact with those around them, and calm themselves down by merely sucking on to their fingers or thumb – nature sure has it all thought out I’ll say.
From what is known, babies (I hate calling them a mere fetus) in the early periods of pregnancy are more prone to touching their upper part along with the sides of their heads. However, as they continue to practice with time and become a tad bit more mature, they find it fairly easier to touch the lower part of their faces while trying to reach for their mouth. It is finally at the 36th week mark that babies are able to open their mouths prior to touching them. What this means is that by 36 weeks, babies have the ability to anticipate the touch of their hands around the mouth and don’t merely react to the touch of their hands – it’s all so miraculous.
1 #: Babies bond with their mother’s even when they are inside the womb– awwww!
There’s such a lot that babies are up to inside the womb, and one such amazing activity is that of bonding with their mothers. Seriously, your little one doesn’t need an extensive article listing down just what s/he needs to do to bond with his/her mother as they are already pros at it. As you go about your daily life doing things that you like, you can rest-assured that your baby is extremely busy bonding with you while you are at it.
In the last 10-15 weeks of your pregnancy, your baby is going to be extremely busy listening to everything that you say. Yes, your little one actually will be able to recognize your voice at this point in time, and although s/he has no idea what you are talking about, s/he will still listen to it in the most attentive manner possible. It is because of this particular bit of the bonding process that your baby will be able to recognize your voice the moment s/he is born, thereby giving you all the more reason to communicate with your baby in utero.
Studies have further shown that babies begin recognizing nursery rhymes during the third trimester. Researchers at the University of Florida conducted a study in which pregnant women were asked to read out classic verses to their unborn babies at least twice a day for a span of several weeks in the third trimester of their pregnancies. It was found that once the mothers started doing so, their babies’ heart rates slowed down a bit and the babies appeared more relaxed. With time, the same reaction was triggered by babies in the womb even when the rhymes were read out to them by complete strangers. This goes on to show that babies prepare bond fairly well with their mothers while in utero and are adequately prepared for social interaction as well.
Considering how much of an effort your baby is putting into bonding with you, it is necessary for you to reciprocate to these efforts. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to take out a bit of time every day, sit in a quiet room and start communicating with your baby by telling him/her how happy you are to have him/her – speak your heart out!