If you feel like there is a party happening inside your body and your baby is the number 1 participant, you are probably right. Oh what fun your baby is having in your uterus as he grows and develops. He’s learning and practicing amazing skills that he’ll need to survive on the outside world. But for now, he’s enjoying being the life of the party in your womb.
Here are the skills your baby is working on to prepare him for life outside the womb:
Movement: Your baby’s mobility increases daily between 15 weeks and towards the end of your third trimester when quarters get a bit tight for break-dancing. Your baby stretches, kicks, punches, flips, wiggles, rolls and does many more acrobatics that may feel like complete shenanigans to you. But your baby is having a blast floating and getting his exercise in your womb so enjoy the contained movement while you can.
Taste: Amazingly, your baby can taste the food you are eating through amniotic fluid. Certain spices and especially sweet tastes are pungent in amniotic fluid. Your baby becomes familiar with these flavors before birth and will continue to snack on them through your breast milk once he is born. Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is the first step to palette training your baby.
Expression: Somewhat like a mime, your baby is working on facial expressions in utero. He can curl his lips into a smile and may furrow his brow as if he were angry. Also, sonograms indicate that babies actually cry in the womb, usually when they get startled by a sound or movement. This may make you sad, but remember, your baby’s cries are an important part of his early communication with you. So learning to cry early is actually a good thing.
Breathe: Another important life skill is breathing. Your baby is practicing it now in the womb, although the umbilical cord is providing all of the oxygen he needs. As soon as he is born, the temperature change from your body to the outside world will trigger his first real breath. And he’ll be ready because practice makes perfect.
Listen: By around the midpoint of your pregnancy your baby can hear your voice and those around you. He is becoming distinctly aware of your sounds versus others, which makes him favor you after birth. Also, exposure to certain songs or nursery rhymes in utero may be familiar to him after birth as well.
Stress: Studies show that babies in the womb react to stress felt by their mothers. Stress releases certain hormones in mothers that can also cause the baby to react. Babies typically cover their faces with their left hand when they feel stressed. So when your doctor says you need to relax, heed the advice and take a chill pill for the sake of your baby.
Suck: Your baby is learning to suck in the womb as well. You may even catch a glimpse of your baby sucking his thumb during an ultrasound. This self-soothing motion is vital to your baby’s growth and independence. It will help him suck milk from your breast and calm himself when he gets upset. He may not be able to suck his fingers immediately after birth, but he will soon rediscover this passion.
Hiccup: If you feel you’ve swallowed a jumping bean, chances are, your baby is just hiccupping. Hiccups are marked by a regularly timing beat and may make you feel your entire body is bouncing. It is completely normal for babies to get hiccups in the womb and they will continue throughout infancy.
We hope you and your baby enjoy the party that is happening in your womb. It’s only a short 9-month bash before life completely changes for both of you.