Creating a life is such a beautiful and wonderful experience but it can also be quite astounding, as we gain insight into the life of a baby in the womb.
Karen Wilmot also known as The Virtual Midwife, has put together 9 facts you might not know about your baby. We learn more about your baby’s environment and how your baby is perfectly adapted to life in the womb.
1. Did you Know Your baby doesn’t have kneecaps?
Well, they do, but not like adult knee caps. If your baby had an X-ray at birth, you would not be able to see knee caps because they would still be cartilage. All bones start off as cartilage and become bones through a process called ossification. Much of this process happens while your baby is in the womb, but there is still some bone development that takes place after birth.
It will take anywhere between 3 – 5 years for your babies cartilage to fully ossify into big old knee caps like yours but there is a very good reason for this. Babies take a lot of tumbles and falls when they start learning to walk and explore the world, and the soft squishy cartilage is an excellent shock absorber. You will be surprised at how your baby seems to almost bounce up after a fall. This is largely due to the spongy nature of the cartilage and the flexibility that this allows. Isn’t nature marvelous?
2. Your baby has more bones than you.
Can you imagine 300 bones in that tiny body you are carrying? Just like knee caps, many of the bones in your babies body will change over time and fuse together to become 206.
One of the most important and significant changes occur in the bones of your baby’s skull. Once again nature has provided a built in mechanism to ease the process of birth for you and your baby. Your baby’s skull is made up of 5 bony plates held together by strong fibrous material called sutures.
These act like an expansion joint allowing the bones to move during the birth process. This is called moulding and is a very normal and necessary aspect of birth as it enables your baby to fit through the birth canal. It may cause your baby to born with a slightly misshapen head but this will soon settle as the bones slide back into place.
The bones are able to enlarge evenly as the brain grows and the skull expands, resulting in a symmetrically shaped head before they fuse.
3. Your baby has facial hair
This beautifully soft downy hair is called lanugo and it starts out as a fine moustache that gradually spreads all over the body. It has a very important function during pregnancy as it acts an anchor for the creamy substance called vernix caseosa. If you lay in your bathtub for 9 months you would prune up like a raisin, no? The amniotic fluid is a bit like a bathtub and your baby is swimming around in it. Once again, nature was one step ahead of us and the thick creamy vernix acts like a lubricant protecting the delicate skin from pruning up while still in the womb. It also acts as a lubricant during birth and is shown to affect thermoregulation, water loss, and innate immunity after birth. Without the lanugo to anchor the vernix caseosa these functions would be lost.
4. Babies cry in the womb
It’s a silent cry but a cry nonetheless. Ultrasound technology has opened our eyes to the world of the baby in utero and scientists have identified crying behaviour, even, and this one is really cute, a trembling bottom lip! It usually starts around 26 weeks from conception and continues until, well, until the first cry that you will actually hear when your baby is born. Remember that crying is one of your baby’s ways of communicating with you, so let the fact that your baby is crying in utero comfort you that crying is normal. In the weeks after birth you will learn to listen to your baby’s cry and know exactly what it is that they are telling you. Crying is communication. It is your baby’s language. Learn to listen.
5. Your baby drinks his pee.
By the end of the first trimester, your baby will be swallowing & digesting the amniotic fluid. This is filtered by the kidneys and urinated back into the amniotic fluid and the process is repeated. You might even be able to see your baby swallowing during an ultrasound scan, which is really cute.
6. Your baby can smell.
Your baby is already becoming familiar with your smell and specifically the smell of your amniotic fluid in utero. Smell is the most advanced sense that babies have at birth and they use it to calm themselves.There is no doubt that your child prefers your scent to anyone else and you will soon notice how your baby is soothed simply by being held close and allowed to breathe in your familiar smell. This is an essential element of the bonding process and demands nothing more than holding your baby close and simply being.
7. Your baby knows your voice.
From about 28 weeks of pregnancy your baby recognises your voice. The sound of your voice is transmitted to your baby as ambient sound through the amniotic fluid and internally through the vibration of your vocal chords. They also develop a fine ear for certain sounds and pick up on the rhythm and melody of the speech, rather than individual words. So although your baby does not necessarily understand your words, he is aware of your tone and pitch. You might want to write a special lullaby for your baby and sing it every day during your connecting sessions. Notice how long it takes before you start getting a response from your baby and use this song to calm your child after birth. This is a beautiful practice for communication with your baby.
8. Your baby loves sweet things.
From as early as 15 weeks from conception your baby will begin to show a preference for sweet flavours by swallowing more amniotic fluid when it is sweet, and less when it is bitter. The different flavours of food can be detected in the amniotic fluid and researchers believe that this is nature’s way of preparing your baby for the many different flavours of the food in later years. Garlic, anise, ginger and sweet flavours are all known to alter the flavour of amniotic fluid. Read more on what to eat to help prevent birth defects.
9. Your baby gets hiccups.
This is a really fun one because by the third trimester you might even see your belly moving rhythmically when your baby gets hiccups. You will certainly feel the little movements and you will soon recognise them as hiccups. Take note, because your baby will get hiccups often in the first weeks after birth and it is important to be comfortable with them. They are usually just a sign of pure contentment and a full tummy and do not require you to do anything to stop them. Enjoy them.
So there you have it. Each one of the ten facts that I have included highlight the miracle of nature and the perfection of you and your child. They also highlight your and your baby’s senses, and how understanding these and connecting to them, will enhance your connection and your ability to communicate effectively and co-operatively with your baby.
Our Due Date Club is perfect for expecting moms to get the information they need and have a wonderful support system ran by midwife, Karen Wilmot for R450,00 p/m.