Pregnancy is, without a doubt, amazing. Even on the hardest days of your pregnancy, as you struggle with morning sickness, irritability and wonder when the ordeal would get over, remember the wonder of growing a life inside you. Each week, as you flick through the pages of a book, or take a walk in the park, or listen to music, remember that each one of your activities affects your baby. I am sure you have heard the story of Abhimanyu – the young warrior son of Arjun and Subhadra who learned how to enter the Chakravyuh battle formation while in his mother’s womb. It is not just mythology. Did you know that baby development and milestones start as early as in the womb?
During my pregnancy, I was watching (for some strange reason!) a lot of National Geographic Channel and reading a lot of books by animal activists such as Jane Goodall, Gerald Durrell, and James Herriott. It did surprise me and reaffirmed whatever I had heard of ‘learning in the womb’ when I discover (and continue to) my son’s affinity towards anything to do with animals!
Recent research has delved into the notion that unborn babies concentrate on more than simply getting bigger and developing organs during gestation. Your baby is learning a great deal about life, it’s family and the world it will soon meet as it grows bigger, stronger and cuter with every trimester. It is much more than simply getting bigger and developing organs during the nine months of pregnancy. They are doing and thinking a lot more than we realize and it’s fascinating to know just what exactly is going on in there while you feel every kick, jab, and hiccup. Your baby is developing and fine-tuning their senses and learning as much as they can about their world. Development is so much keener in-utero than we first realized.
Here are five Incredible things your baby learns in the womb:
1. Recognizing Mom
A fetus can listen to different noises after 20 weeks – and also learn to distinguish them. It is obvious that a baby will be most familiar with the voice that is heard often – that of her mom. Mommy is the one with the baby all the time, so once the baby learns to decipher between sounds and starts memorizing the familiar sounds. He is sure to develop a bond with his mom and he will react positively to her before and after birth. According to studies done on babies during reading times, fetal heartbeats become less hurried as they are more relaxed while listening to the stories narrated by their would-be-moms. Studies have proven how the mother’s voice affects the baby and develops a bond between the two. And this is how the little ones recognize their mother as soon as they are born.
2. Recognize languages
Not just mom’s voice, babies in the womb are able to recognize their mother tongue after birth. When they are in the womb, they pay attention to all the voices and noises of the outside world and when they are able to decipher between sounds, they begin to adopt the most spoken language as their mother tongue. So, while we are all ready to welcome the new life into the world, the baby in the uterus has already tackled the milestone of distinguishing between languages.
3. The sense of taste
Has pregnancy given you insatiable cravings for marmalade? If so, expect your kid to be a citrus connoisseur himself. That’s because the nutrients in the food you eat seep into your amniotic fluid, which the fetus gulps down and can “taste” by 20 weeks. When you eat certain foods, the flavors can be detected in your amniotic fluid. Garlic, anise, ginger and sweet flavors are all known to alter the flavor of amniotic fluid. Researchers believe this is nature’s way of preparing the baby for the flavors of the food he is likely to eat when he enters the world. From as early as week 15, your baby will begin to show a preference for sweet flavors by swallowing more amniotic fluid when it is sweet, and less when it is bitter. And these preferences often continue in their growing up years and even later life.
4. Differentiating between noise and music
Believe it or not, your little one has a strong sense of hearing even before it is born. Yes, it can hear all the sounds that are produced by your body metabolism, like the beating of your heart, gushing of blood around your body, the noise of water in your stomach, your voice itself and your hiccups as well. Not only this, all the noises that are prevalent around you be it television, your family members talking, animals making noise and so on. As soon as they reach 20 weeks of their gestation period, they start developing a sense of hearing and after 27 weeks or so, they even begin reacting to those sounds. I remember how my son would kick violently – by the fifth month if I was cooking and the pressure cooker whistle would go off!
Among the many facts about babies in the womb, this proves to be the most interesting one, as babies are known to become receptive to the calls of their relatives too. They start recognizing others by their voices once they are born – incredible! Many mothers have also felt some movements in their womb when they played soft music for their unborn little one. In a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, researchers played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over and over during the mom’s third trimester. After birth, they played the song again. EEG readings via electrodes on the infants’ heads showed greater brain activity for infants who’d heard the song in utero than for those who hadn’t. This suggests that they could name that tune.
5. Learning to smile
Smiling For the first few weeks of motherhood, you’ll find yourself willing your baby to smile. After all, you’re busy changing nappies, feeding and generally not sleeping, surely they could just offer you a flash of those gums as reassurance that you’re doing a good job? Fear not, because your developing baby could be practicing his winning smile this very moment from the comfort of your uterus. Using 4D scans, sonographers have discovered that babies smile in the womb from around week 26. By observing 4D scans of fetuses, scientists at Durham and Lancaster Universities found that by 24 weeks, unborn babies could achieve “two dimensional” facial expressions such as curling their mouth in a smile. By 36 weeks, unborn babies could achieve more complex facial expressions including “pain” though lowered eyebrows, wrinkled nose, and stretched mouth.
Unborn babies start grasping things that are happening around their mother, they begin to understand their mother and other family members as it grows in every trimester. From cuttlefish learning to recognize prey before they hatch, to birds memorizing “passwords” in the egg to form a bond with their parents, it is clear that schooling begins before birth.
This is not surprising as the baby inside is also a living being, and living beings learn from their environment, so does the child. Since their brain is in a process of growth and they are unaware of the outer world, they often wonder and fascinate about the things they can sense. So, make sure you do all kinds of positive things during your pregnancy so that the child learns and grabs good things before birth only.
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