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15 Things Babies Learn In The Womb

Newborns have a lot more life skills than people think.

Pregnancy is really a wonderful and yet mysterious journey. Women marvel for 9 months at the thought that their little baby is growing inside of them. As time goes on, they continue to marvel at the amount of growth and milestones that their not-yet-born baby is doing. We all used those apps on our phones that told us what our little one was doing at each week of gestation. It is wonderful.

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For anyone who is not an expert at baby-growing, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding what happens in the womb. What is that baby doing and how are they doing it? Luckily, we live in a time where we can almost know exactly what they are up to in there.

Back when there was no ultrasound technology, women just went through pregnancy hoping everything was good and that they would have a healthy baby at the end of it all. Now, we have ultrasounds at our fingertips. They have been life-saving when it comes to making sure our baby is healthy and growing like they should. They also give us a window into the womb. A glance at the activities of our little ones while they are still inside.

With this technology, experts have been able to detect certain things that babies are learning while they are inside. Proving that babies come out of the womb with some life-skills already in place. It really is amazing what they are doing in there. Now, if we could only figure out how to get them to come out potty-trained, we would really have it all.

15 They Taste Your Dinner

Food is very important to an expectant woman. It really is a love/hate relationship. There are foods we love and crave and then there are foods that make us want to throw up all over the place. No one said pregnancy was glamorous. What a mom-to-be needs to know is that her baby is learning to taste in the womb, and they are tasting something that will resemble what mom eats.

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Just like everything, your baby is growing taste buds. According to Parents.com, the taste buds develop around the time your baby is 13-15 weeks gestation. Once they are developed they can start to taste the amniotic fluid. If mama eats something with a strong flavour, like curry or spice, then it has the ability to change the taste of the amniotic fluid. They don’t start to swallow the amniotic fluid until they are in their third trimester, and that is when they start exploring new flavours.

14 All The Smiles!

Nothing is sweeter than your little one smiling up at you. Mom and dad may need to wait a while before they see that first genuine smile, but they are already practicing that in the womb. A newborn does have the ability to smile, but they are not normally done out of happiness. It is, quite commonly, just gas or a reflux. When a baby is 2-3 months old is when you may see that first grin of happiness and it will swell your heart.

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Thanks to the introduction of 4D ultrasounds, sonographers have been able to detect that a baby starts smiling in the womb at around 26-weeks gestation. If you are lucky enough to have one of these ultrasounds done, you may get to experience your little one learning all these skills for yourself. There is nothing more heartwarming to a mother than her little baby smiling up at her, it is the first sign she will get that she is doing a great job.

13 Go To The Bathroom

Everyone goes to the bathroom, even a little fetus. New moms know that babies pee a lot, and if you have a little boy they have some pretty good aim. They get that way by a lot of practicing in the womb. Yup, that’s right, having a pee is another thing that babies learn to do while they are in the inside. During the first trimester, urine is already being developed in your little baby’s system. Once they start actively swallowing fluid, it is passed through the body and comes out as urine.

Ultrasound technicians have found this skill really useful, because it allows them to watch the baby in uteru to make sure that there is nothing wrong with the swallow reflux. It is also good practice for the kidneys. This amniotic-fluid urine is also passed through the kidneys to give them a little work out on its way out.

12 An Eye Workout

A new mom can hardly wait until her little baby looks up at her with bright, big eyes! While it does take time to know exactly what colour eyes your little one has, they are already practicing opening and closing their little eyes while in the womb. When a fetus is developing, it grows eyelids just as it grows everything else, and at one point those eyelids will form and the eyes will fuse shut. They stay that way for some time while more development is happening.

It isn’t until around 28 weeks gestation that your little one will start to open its eyes. The womb is a dark place, so it won’t be able to see much but it will definitely be able to detect light. According to Belly Belly, researchers have found that fetuses will react to bright lights while in the womb, and they may actually turn away from them.

11 Breathe … Duh!

This may be one that not a lot of people know about, and for obvious and good reasons. When a baby is in the womb, it is receiving all its oxygen through the umbilical cord. It is in a space that is full of liquid, so it would be quite hard for them to take in air like we do. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still practice for the big act. Babies do start practicing breathing when they are in the womb, and this has all been seen via ultrasounds.

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At only 9 weeks gestation, your little one will start to go through the motions of breathing, to perfect this life necessary skill. What prompts the little one to take their first deep breath when they are born is the drastic change in temperature and environment. Therefore, experts advise any woman who wants a water birth to make sure the water is kept at room temperature, so the baby does not take a breath of water in when they make their grand entrance.

10 Hiccups

To verify this one, all you must do is talk to a few pregnant women or moms. They will tell you that your baby is definitely learning to hiccup in the womb. All babies move in the womb, that is when a mom-to-be can experience those lovely kicks and jabs. Something else an expectant mom may feel is her little one having the hiccups.

Hiccups can start as early as the first trimester, but mom won’t be able to feel them until she is farther along. Some notice them happening a few times a week or month, while others experience their little one with the hiccups on a daily basis. If you are worried that your baby is hiccupping too much, don’t be. According to Healthline, hiccups are usually just a normal part of fetal development, and just another act that they are practicing on the inside. If you are ever concerned, you can ask your doctor about it.

9 Yes, They Do Cry

This one may break your heart, but recent studies have shown that babies are learning to cry in the womb. By studying ultrasound footages, researchers were noticing that fetuses were exhibiting behaviour that is like that of a crying baby. Their facial expression changes and they portray a quivering bottom lip which is a common feature for a crying baby.

If your little one is crying on the inside, it is not clear evidence that they are unhappy or that something is wrong, they are just practicing. While it is hard and distressing to hear, crying is a very important tool for a baby to have. It is the only way they can communicate to you that something is wrong, that they are hungry, tired or uncomfortable. Any skill that is important deserves a lot of attention and practice, they are just building up those lungs!

8 Mastering Swallowing

One of the many skills your baby is learning in the womb is the art of swallowing. We have touched on this a bit, but we are going to discuss it in a bit more detail here. When a baby is born, they only have two possible sources of food; breastmilk or formula. In order to get this food in their system they need to suck and swallow it from breast or bottle. This is a skill they use very shortly after birth, and they are not just born knowing how to do this, they have been practicing for some time now.

In the second trimester, babies start to swallow amniotic fluid. The fluid goes through their system, and then exits back into the sac. This process is repeated until your little one is born. It may seem a little ‘gross’ to us, but everything in the womb is sterile and will not hurt the baby when they ingest it.

7 The Bond Has Already Started

Who knew that one of the skills that a little baby learns is how to love? Well, not exactly. While they do not learn or understand the concept of love, they are learning to bond with the mom-to-be. This lesson in bonding typically occurs within the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. According to Belly Belly, studies have been done using ultrasound technology that show that babies in the womb respond to their mother’s voice. This shows that there is a connection, and that babies know a lot more than we think they do.

This also explains why a baby responds to his mother’s voice as soon as he is born. There is a connection there and it has been weeks in the making. It is a bond that will last a lifetime. This is also why it is so important to get dad involved as well. Get him to talk to the belly and read stories to the baby. The bond may not be as strong as the one with mom, but there may be some recognition there.

6 Word Learning

For this next one we are going right to science. According to Science Magazine (full article links below) babies can learn very specific words in the womb. We already know that babies can hear the outside world and that they will start to respond to certain voices and loud sounds, but new research is being done to show that they have the ability to remember specific words.

A study was done way back in 1988 that showed that infants recognized and responded to a theme song of a soap opera that her mother watched religiously when she was expecting. It also showed that babies are born already familiar with the language that is spoken by the family. This may make some people nervous, because now we have to watch what we say around pregnant woman. We don't want the babies first word to be a swear word, that would be awful (but kind of cute).

5 Dream Sweet Dreams

Dreaming is something we all do, we may not remember them, but we can have countless dreams in one night. So, it has a lot of people wondering if a fetus dream while they are in the womb. The one is a bit difficult to say for certain, so it is still a hypothesis at this point, but researchers have discovered that there is a high chance that babies do dream while they are in the womb.

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Dreaming only occurs in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This is the deepest level of sleep a person achieves. In order to figure out if babies dream in the womb we must figure out if they enter into this REM sleep. Researchers at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany have come to the conclusion that there is a high chance that a fetus does dream in utero. They studied countless sheep in utero and found that they do in fact enter REM sleep while in the womb. More studies need to be done to say for certain, but you can read their whole findings below.

4 Thumb-Sucking

Dreaming may be up in the air, but thumb sucking is definitely not up for debate. There are countless pieces of evidence that babies suck their thumb while they are still in the womb, and you don’t have to look very far to find it. All you must do is look at ultrasound footage, maybe even your own. Babies have been seen sucking their thumbs and fingers while in the womb, and they make some great photographs.

The reason on why they do this is unclear, whether it is self-comfort or another way to practice sucking is unknown. Chances are, if you catch your little one sucking their thumb on an ultrasound picture, then they will be a thumb-sucker once they leave. Therefore, it can be so hard to break children of this habit because they have been doing it since before they were born.

3 Listening Is A Good Skill

A good skill to have as a human being is to be a good listener. It is a trait everyone should have, and babies are getting a head start while in the womb because they are already practicing. At only 18 weeks gestation, a baby is starting to hear sounds in the womb. By the time they hit 24-weeks they are more sensitive to the sounds around them. At just one or two weeks later they will start to respond to these sounds. Pretty amazing!

This means that if you go to a concert, or there is a loud bang you may get some gentle (or not so gentle) kicks in the ribs or bladder. A loud noise may startle a little baby, and this causes them to jab or kick. Don’t worry, it won’t harm them. A lot of women start to play music to their fetus through headphones on their belly, because we all need some entertainment sometimes.

2 Respond To Your Touch

Did you know that it is possible to play with your baby while it is still inside? Well, you can! This is a great way to build that bond. Near the end of your pregnancy, if you press (gently!) on your belly, you may feel your little one gives you a kick or a push back. It can quickly turn into a little game between mom and baby as they interact with each other.

This is a great way to get Dad involved in the pregnancy as well. It can be hard for dads as they watch the growth of their baby from the outside. While they may miss out on all the negative side effects of pregnancy, they miss some pretty cool moments too. They miss most of movement and will never know what it feels like from the inside. You can get dad to play this game with your little one, while talking to them, because we know they can hear!

1 Move Those Muscles!

I don’t think we have to tell any expectant mom that their baby moves around inside. Mom feels all the little kicks, jabs and rolls and delights in everyone. This is a great skill they are practicing. They are not just doing it to make you go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, even though it feels that way. They are practicing working their muscles and gaining strength.

It is like this; imagine you got a brand-new car. What is the first thing you are going to do? You are going to take it out for some test drives and experiment with it. It is the same thing, they have this new body that they have just realized moves, and they want to take it out for their own test drive while in the womb. A lot of woman start to feel movement in the second trimester (around 20 weeks). If this is your second or third pregnancy, you may start to feel it earlier.

Sources:

Belly Belly: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/amazing-things-baby-does-in-womb/

Science Magazine: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/08/babies-learn-recognize-words-womb

Parents: https://www.parents.com/advice/pregnancy-birth/pregnancy-stages/can-my-baby-taste-before-shes-born/

Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/baby-hiccups-in-womb#2

Science 2.0 (Do Babies Dream In The Womb?: http://www.science20.com/news_releases/do_babies_womb_have_dreams

 

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15 Things Babies Learn In The Womb