Your baby isn’t sitting idly inside your belly. There are lots of tasks to do—growing bones, organs, tiny limbs, hearing moms rumbling stomach and responding back by moving around and stretching hands and feet. Babies may seem sleeping and lazing around in the womb—on the contrary, they are very much active and respond to external and internal stimuli.
Kicks inside the womb are their way of exploring the world around. Apart from that, these 5 things that can make your baby react will surprise you.
1. Bright Sunlight
Your baby’s eyes are sensitive, even inside the womb—they become sensitive to light by as early as 15 weeks. It is known that unborn baby do open their eyes—babies are said to display rapid eye movement in the womb, which begins at 23 weeks.1 With their still-developing vision, babies can sense bright sunlight like a warm glow.
2. Cigarette Smoke
Babies can sense the taste and smell of cigarette in the womb as it enters the mother’s bloodstream and reaches the baby. A mother smoking cigarette posses various health risks and complications for her unborn baby. Here is how smoking and harm your baby in the womb. Researchers at Lancaster and Durham universities studied a 4-D ultrasound of unborn babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. The images revealed that these babies showed more mouth and hand movements as compared to fetal movement in usual pregnancy.2 The reason scientist explain was a lower rate of development of the central nervous system in the baby. Even passive smoking is associated with birth defects and preterm births.
3. Taste Of Different Foods
Babies seem to recognize the taste of few food items after birth when they are exposed to them in the womb. Few strong flavors get through the mother’s blood stream into the amniotic fluid. Since the babies keep swallowing the amniotic fluid, they could taste these flavors, probably even develop a liking towards these foods after birth. In a study, infants seemed to enjoy carrots flavored cereals more than others after their mothers drank carrot juice during pregnancy and lactation.3
By the 19th week, your baby gains the ability to hear.4 They can even remember tunes and react to familiar music. In a study, a group of 24 women was asked to listen to the famous rhyme ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ regularly during last few months of their pregnancy. After the delivery, their babies were made to hear the same lullaby—and they seem to recognize the tune.5 The brain activity observed in these babies suggested that they were remembering the tune learned previously. This also suggests that babies also have a tendency to learn when still in the womb.
5. External Touch
You might have noticed your baby responding by kicking and moving when you rub your belly. Your baby can sense that touch when you keep your hand on the belly. You will feel that your baby kicks and moves as a response, rather an acknowledgment to the sensation of your touch. It also relaxes them—more like a massage therapy. But, it amazing how your baby can feel and react to your external touch.
You could spend a lot of time singing to your unborn baby, giving them a soothing massage, or trying differently flavored foods for them. It is exciting how encapsulated safely inside the womb your baby still senses and responds to the outside world.
|↑1||Birnholz, Jason C. “The development of human fetal eye movement patterns.” Science 213, no. 4508 (1981): 679-681.|
|↑2||Reissland, Nadja, Brian Francis, Kumar Kumarendran, and James Mason. “Ultrasound observations of subtle movements: a pilot study comparing fetuses of smoking and nonsmoking mothers.” Acta Paediatrica 104, no. 6 (2015): 596-603.|
|↑3||Mennella, Julie A., Coren P. Jagnow, and Gary K. Beauchamp. “Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants.” Pediatrics 107, no. 6 (2001): e88-e88.|
|↑4||Hepper, Peter G., and B. Sara Shahidullah. “Development of fetal hearing.” Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition 71, no. 2 (1994): F81-F87.|
|↑5||Partanen, Eino, Teija Kujala, Mari Tervaniemi, and Minna Huotilainen. “Prenatal music exposure induces long-term neural effects.” PLoS One 8, no. 10 (2013): e78946.|