Want to know what’s happening to your baby in your body? MH speaks to the experts?
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
With the aches, pains and nausea that comes with pregnancy, it can quickly become easy to forget what a miracle it is to grow a life inside of your body. On days when you have bouts of pregnancy frustration, here are seven fascinating things to remind you what an incredible journey you are on.
Baby Shows an Innate Preference for All Things Sweet!
While it seems that familiarity breeds fondness and that it’s possible to train a baby to enjoy certain flavours through repeated exposure, human babies show an innate – and possibly evolutionary – preference for sweet things. As early as fifteen weeks – around as soon as baby can taste – your baby will swallow more amniotic fluid when it is sweet than when it's bitter.
According to Professor Stuart Campbell, a pioneer of ultrasound diagnosis and consultant at the Centre for Reproduction and Advanced Technology in London, with an ultrasound, you can often see a baby sticking out its tongue as if tasting the amniotic fluid. “Sometimes, you can see a baby screwing up its face as if it doesn't like the taste of what its mother has eaten,” he says.
If you did your bit by staying off the sweets during your pregnancy but
still have a child who loves his sweets, don’t beat yourself up over it,
it’s probably an evolutionary preference.
Sweet Dreams Little Bub
From quite early on in your pregnancy, your baby is more like a newborn than you think! In fact, even before he’s born, it’s quite possible that he already dreams.
Dr Janet DiPietro, psychologist at Johns Hopkins University and a team of researchers conducted a ‘Fetal Development Project’ beginning in 1991 with over 900 maternal-foetal pairs, and found that at 32 weeks of gestation, REM sleep waves associated with the eye movements of dreams can be identified, implying that baby is having dreams even before birth. DiPietro speculates that the unborn child dreams about what it knows – the sensations they felt in the womb.
Female Foetuses Contain Six or Seven Million Eggs
The egg that created you was formed when your mother was a foetus in your grandmother’s womb. Yes, you read that right.
While males generate sperm after they hit puberty, females are born with a lifetime’s supply of eggs. Around the 20th week of gestation, girl babies have developed their reproductive systems and ovaries, which contain six to seven million eggs. This supply would have dwindled to about two to three million by the time your baby girl is born and will continue to reduce in number to about 400,000 by the time your girl hits puberty.
So as you contemplate giving birth to your child, know that the eggs that will form your grandchildren are already forming in your womb. Now there’s your thought of the day!
Don’t Scare the Baby!
Your bub’s sense of hearing is developed at 20 weeks gestation, says Barbara Kisilevsky, a professor in the School of Nursing at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. By 26 or 27 weeks, your baby will respond to sounds; “They will move or their heart rate will change,” says Kisilevsky.
It is, therefore, possible to startle or scare your baby even while he is still in your belly, and some mums share first-hand experiences: “I was cleaning the floors and dropped the dustpan on the floor. It made a loud banging sound and I felt a flinch-like feeling in my belly,” says a soon-to-be mum on a pregnancy forum.
While it may be incredibly cute to see or feel your baby react to sudden loud noises, experts suggest that scaring your baby on purpose isn’t the best idea as it could possibly affect his self-confidence.
Baby Pees in Your Womb Then Drinks it
As yucky as that sounds, your womb is actually your baby’s potty. Your baby swallows amniotic fluid, which is digested and filtered by his kidneys and then urinated back into the uterus. What follows is a cycle of drinking and urinating amniotic fluid.
Baby’s First Breath is the Hardest
Your baby only takes his first breath of air after birth. Before that, you breathe for him and the oxygen you take in gets passed to your baby through the umbilical cord. But while in the womb, baby’s lungs make breathing-like movements as early as nine weeks, while they are still filled with amniotic fluid. These movements are said to allow baby to “practice” breathing.
According to the Hospital for Sick Children (HSC), in Canada, the first few breaths a baby takes are the most difficult of his life. During labour, hormonal changes initiate the reabsorption of fluid in the lungs and so does physical stimulation and handling during delivery.
The first few breaths your baby takes may be shallow or irregular but as more air accumulates in his lungs with each breath, your baby breathes more easily and deeply. As amniotic fluid in the lungs is replaced by air, the oxygen stimulates a blood vessel (the ductus arteriosus) that’s close to the heart to begin closing.
“The ductus arteriosus was important to your baby’s body before birth, to divert blood away from the lungs. After birth, your baby needs blood to circulate through the lungs, and therefore, the ductus arteriosus is no longer needed. The ductus arteriosus usually closes during the first or second day of life. At this point, your baby’s heart will pump and circulate blood in much the same way as an adult’s heart. The transition from foetal to adult circulation can take minutes or hours. Problems with your baby’s colour or breathing may be related to this delayed transition,” HSC published on its website, About Kids Health.