What Daily Life Is Like For A Baby In The Womb
Have you ever wondered what it's like in the womb for a developing baby? It's not something you can really remember, but it's where everyone began their lives. While the best pregnancy apps can help alleviate some of the stress of not knowing exactly what's going on inside your belly, it's always comforting to read and learn about the actual developmental process.
As you experience bizarre changes in your body because of pregnancy, know that some of those changes are to accommodate your baby in the womb. Your body works to keep the womb warm and the baby surrounded by fluids so that it can float, squirm, eat, and sleep.
So what does a typical day feel like in a mother's belly? You may be surprised by some of the things babies experience.
The Baby Rarely Wakes Up From Sleep
The day starts for the baby like it does for the average person: with waking up. There's one major difference with a baby's sleep cycle while it's still in the womb. To put it simply, they sleep almost all the time. When a baby is at about 32 weeks, they sleep a total of 90 to 95 percent of the time. That means that the kicking a pregnant person feels is often done while the baby is asleep.
Even towards the end of pregnancy, close to birth, a baby still sleeps about 85 to 90 percent of the time.
They'll Have A Look Around
While the baby is awake, it will probably open its eyes. Babies start opening their eyes at about the seventh month of pregnancy, though the eyes are fully developed by the fourth month. Even though the eyes are still just formed and barely opening, that doesn't mean the baby can't see what's going on around them. They will be able to see their own limbs, the inside of the womb, the umbilical chord, and more, though they will be viewing it all through amniotic fluid.
Perhaps most interesting is that light is able to penetrate the walls of the womb and get to the baby. Even before they are born, babies will begin reacting to light and darkness.
The Baby May Take A Stroll
While the baby is awake, they are going to get a little acrobatic. By 37 weeks, the baby will have developed enough coordination to grasp things, kick, and interact with the womb around it. This enables them to kick off of the walls of the womb in order to simulate walking or jumping.
They may also do such strange things like lick the side of the womb once they get cuddled up close to it.
They're Always Listening
It's been known for a long time that babies can hear things outside the womb during development. Thus, the idea that listening to Mozart makes a baby smarter is a popular one, though it isn't necessarily true. Rather, the fact is that a baby reacts to outside stimuli.
Around 26 or 27 weeks, babies begin to respond to sound vibrations in the womb, and many of those stimuli a baby hears on a day-to-day basis come directly from the parent. They will hear their parent's heartbeat, their voice, and the sound of their body functioning around it. By about 30 weeks, they will begin to hear sounds outside the womb, such as other voices and music. They will be able to recognize some of those sounds once it's outside the womb.
But, there's no strong evidence that Mozart in particular makes a baby smart, though music in general seems to stimulate the baby.
They'll Practice Normal Baby Things
Even before the baby exits the womb, they'll be prepping for life on the outside. Because the motor skills really start working in the last trimester, babies will start doing basic activities that all babies do. They won't be able to suck yet, because that reflex isn't fully formed, but that doesn't stop them from putting their thumb in their mouth as if they're sucking on it.
They'll grab things around them, including parts of their body, and will squirm and fidget to try to find comfortable positions. They will even practice facial expressions, such as frowning and smiling, as 4D scans of babies in utero have shown.
They'll Be "Breathing" Amniotic Fluid
The baby's lungs are one of the last things to develop while in the womb because for a long time, they don't need them. Babies get all the oxygen they need to thrive through the umbilical chord, so they won't be breathing, per se, while inside. The baby will, however, start practicing for the real thing using the amniotic fluid surrounding it. At merely nine weeks, the baby starts opening its mouth and taking in amniotic fluid, even swallowing it in an action similar to breathing.
Doctors can use this to check the baby's swallowing reflex, but can also check to see if the baby is developing its ability to breathe. Once on the outside, the air triggers the baby to take its first breath, and only then does it begin to really breathe.