7 things you never knew babies learnt in the womb

Get a load of these amazing things that bubba is practising even before they emerge from your tummy!

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From the moment you hold your newborn baby for the first time, he’s already been shaped by the environment that he’s lived in for the past nine months or so…in your womb!

Indeed, learning begins way before bubba makes his way into the world. Sometimes, you may feel your little one jab you in the ribs when you gulp down a cold glass of juice, or he seems to do somersaults when he hears daddy singing to your bump. These are signs that your baby is simply developing his senses and practising his newfound skills.

Here are talents you never knew bubba was picking up in utero.

1. Breathing

Ever wondered why that first cry in the delivery room is so important? That’s because the first cry enables your little one to test his lungs for the very first time ― by letting in that first whoosh of air, he’s stimulating breathing. In actual fact, the foetus practises this motion of crying and breathing after just 9 weeks of gestation in the womb. He’s preparing for that first big cry that will allow their lungs to fill with air.

Most doctors aid baby with this arduous task by using suction to clear his throat and lungs. He may also be rubbed down gently, so that the stimulation would encourage your baby to give a good yell!

The first cry enables your little one to test his lungs for the very first time ― by letting in that first whoosh of air, he’s stimulating breathing.

2. Tasting

Long before your peewee gets his first taste of breastmilk, or his first mouthful of pumpkin purée, his taste buds would have to get used to the various flavours in your amniotic fluid. According to one study, a baby’s exposure to a certain flavour while in the mother’s womb raises the likelihood that the baby will enjoy that particular flavour during weaning when he takes solid foods.

It’s also been proven that babies are predisposed to like sweet flavours more than salty, bitter and sour flavours ― they swallow more amniotic fluid when their mummies take sweet stuff!

3. Smiling

You shouldn’t doubt that you caught your baby in the middle of a smile during the 4D imaging scan. We now know that babies practise different facial expressions, even in utero! From about 26 weeks, your baby will start exercising those facial muscles, perhaps even giving a wide grin. Just know that those first smiles don’t really mean that bubba is happy ― they are reflex smiles, similar to his jerky limb movements in the first few weeks of his birth.

 

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4. Listening

Your munchkin will hear lots of whooshing and swooshing in his time in your uterus, but amid those sounds, he might also catch the tunes playing in daddy’s car, the sharp giggles in his older sister’s voice, and most importantly, the sounds and rhythms of your voice.

Research shows that language acquisition begins in the womb, too. In one study, it was found that a newborn’s brain responds differently to a familiar language, compared to an unfamiliar one. This shows that even before birth, his young brain is already tuning in to the language environment that he’ll be brought up in.

There’s another study showing that newborns cried in the accents of their mother’s native language ― following the rising and falling of the different melodic arcs of each language. For instance, French babies preferred to produce rising melody notes, while German babies preferred falling notes.

When you’re feeling happy, sad, or even angry, your baby’s mood changes with yours. That’s why it’s important for expectant mums to relax and avoid stress!

5. Responding to light

Your baby will flinch a little in response to light when he first enters the world as he hasn’t really seen a lot inside the womb. However, his little peepers would have already opened sometime around 28 weeks of gestation. Sure, it’ll be dark most of the time, but he may start reacting to light ― for instance, if you shine a torch on your belly. The light won’t harm him, or his eyes, though you might feel him attempt to roll over as he tries to turn away from it.

6. Bonding with you

So, you’ve been rather caught up with your aching back, swollen feet and never-ending nausea to be bothered with reading to your baby bump, or listening to music together. No need to feel guilty, even if you haven’t made much effort to bond with your burgeoning belly ― your baby is way ahead of you.

He’s been listening intently to your voice, memorising your heartbeat, and getting in touch with how you feel. Yup, it’s not just a physical connection that you have with your little one, but an emotional one as well. When you’re feeling happy, sad, or even angry, your baby’s mood changes with yours. That’s why it’s important for expectant mums to relax and avoid stress!

7. Thumb sucking

A habit that many babies develop (yay to self-soothing!), parents hope to break thumb-sucking by the time they become toddlers. But this habit actually begins way before your baby is even born. According to a study by scientists from Durham and Lancaster universities in the UK, babies in utero were seen to open their mouths before bringing their hands to their mouths ― a sign that they are anticipating touch. This is a sign of healthy development. One scientist also noted that it’s a sign that the baby is preparing for social interaction, self-soothing and feeding.

Photos: iStock

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