Weird, Gross, And Unexpected Things Babies Do Inside The Womb

While your bundle of joy may be precious now, rest assured he or she was pretty gross in the womb. You may wonder how a baby spends pregnancy - sure, they're growing, but nine months is a long time to just kick and sleep (although there is a lot of sleeping). Babies actually have plenty going on while they develop, and most of what babies do in the womb it is pretty nasty. Would you let your newborn drink its pee? No? Didn't think so - but that's what they're doing for nine months. 

All of the things a newborn does after birth begin in the womb. They'll start to cry, smile, and develop their senses. Most ultrasounds catch a baby sleeping or just hanging out, but every now and then a baby is captured making gestures or sucking its thumb. These seemingly simple things (even the gross ones) are important development milestones for a fetus. 

Though fetuses are undoubtedly doing some gross things in there, they also can amaze you with what they learn and remember while they're preparing to enter the world.  

  • Male Fetuses Start Getting Erections In Utero

    Sexuality begins in the womb, something new parents learn when baby boys get erections pretty much immediately after birth; in some cases, this even happens in the womb.

    Doctors urge parents not to worry - in most cases, the erection is an indication the nervous system is working or that he has to pee. Likewise, how a parent handles this kind of issue can set the stage for a child's sexuality, meaning it is all the more important to handle the situation calmly and without judgment. 

  • Amniotic Fluid Is Pee - And Babies Drink It Up

    Amniotic fluid sounds a lot nicer, but the reality is by the time a woman gives birth, that amniotic fluid is pee. Almost all pee. 

    The kidneys are formed near the end of the first trimester, so when the baby swallows amniotic fluid, he pees it out and then drinks it again. It's a vicious urine sippin' cycle. 

    However, this pee/amniotic fluid is an important barometer for a baby's health. If there isn't enough fluid, it could mean the kidneys aren't working as they should; if there's too much fluid, the baby may not be able to swallow correctly. Likewise, doctors can use amniotic fluid to test for certain genetic conditions, as the fluid also contains the cells the fetus sheds. 

  • They Spend The Entire Time In The Womb Creating Their First Tar-Like Poop

    While babies typically don't actually poop in the womb, they are hard at work creating their first poop while chilling in there. This inaugural poop is known as meconium, and new moms know how disgusting it is. It is incredibly sticky and stinky. Meconium is made of cells, amniotic fluid, and hair, which does indeed sound like it would make a sticky mess. This will last a few days, and it's described as looking like tar. Fun! 

  • Their Entire Body Becomes Covered In Hair And Can Give The Mother Heartburn

    When the fetus is around 16 weeks, it begins to grow hair all over its body, starting with a tiny mustache. So, for the last few months of the pregnancy, there's a very hairy baby in there. This hair, called lanugo, sheds before birth (and yes, the baby eats it - the lanugo will be in your baby's first poop).

    Don't dismiss the old wive's tale that heartburn means you'll have a hairy baby - it's true! Johns Hopkins University confirmed hairier babies cause more heartburn. Estrogen can ultimately allow acid to splash into your esophagus, causing heartburn; estrogen also controls a baby's hair. So, if you're hoping for a baby with a full head of hair, get ready for the heartburn. 

  • They Come Out Of The Womb Looking Like They Are Covered In Cheese

    Immediately after delivery, babies are coated in white. This cheese-like coating is called the vernix caseosa, which protects the baby while it's growing. You may think the baby is already protected - it's in the amniotic fluid, right? Well, the vernix caseosa is a protection from the fluid; it prevents the skin from wrinkling or chapping from too much water.

    Think about what your skin looks like after swimming in a pool for too long. Without the vernix caseosa, your baby would be born with prune-like skin. Some professionals suggest delaying the baby's first bath, allowing the vernix caseosa to do its job further - the coating can help with temperature regulation and protect from infection, as it contains antioxidants. 

  • They Hiccup In The Womb

    Though babies start hiccuping in the first trimester, most moms don't notice until the second or third. In any case, it's a good sign - this is how the baby is practicing breathing. Hiccups are an indication the diaphragm is strong and the nervous system is developing as it should.

    If you've ever seen an ultrasound where a baby is jumping or jerking around, it's probably having hiccups. The hiccups are reflexive, meaning the hiccups are helping the baby prepare to drink milk after birth - that's a good thing!

    Though in most cases you shouldn't worry about hiccups, pregnant women should let their doctor know if a baby's hiccups increase in the few weeks prior to the due date, as it could indicate an umbilical cord issue.