Over the course of 40 weeks babies go through a tremendous metamorphoses. If you thought they just sat there and grew like a tomato in the garden boy are you wrong. The reality is that babies start to experience life well ahead of their birthday. The experiences they have aren't confined to just what's happening in their mom's womb either. They get to experience some of their external surroundings too, just slightly filtered by their mom.
Lets look at 15 amazing things your baby will learn in the womb and the pregnancy week in which those things generally occur. Some experiences will go fairly unnoticed by the expecting mom but some things are a shared experience between unborn babies and moms.
Suck Their Thumb
Around the 12th week your baby may have already figured out how to suck their thumb. Our first born was never much a finger sucker but he did love his pacifier. Our second born was a huge finger sucker. What's better than sucking one finger, sucking two of course. Three years in and our second born is still sucking on those two fingers from time to time. We can't wait for that habit to come to an end!
Swallow and Pee
Around the 13th week the cells blocking your baby's mouth (the buccopharyngeal membrane) will give way allowing your baby to start swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is primarily water, but it also contains nutrients that your baby absorbs, including protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes and glucose.
Any fluid not used by the body is processed into urine by the baby's kidneys and peed back into the amniotic fluid. Now that's what I call recycling!
Perform Yoga and Make Funny Faces
Around the 14th week your baby is moving their arms and legs with some coordination. Calling it yoga might be a stretch, pun intended, but they're at least ready for some yoga instruction.
Your baby will also start exercising their facial muscles. Some of their facial expressions will include squinting, frowning and smiling. Aren't performing yoga and making funny faces a perfect match?
Sense Light and Sound
Around the 15th week your baby will start to sense light. Altough their eyes are still shut they've developed enough to sense some light when their mom's tummy is exposed to bright lights.
Your baby's hearing is also coming along allowing them to hear mom's heart beat and the gurgling sounds of her digestive system as those nutrients make their way down the baby. Over the teeth, past the gums lookout baby here it comes.
Around the 16th week your baby might be able to grasp their own hands together. It might not be a firm handshake but it's still an amazing first. Just think about all the trouble those little hands will get into over the next three years.
Between the 18th and 21st week mom is probably feeling a lot of wriggling going on down there from time to time. Those small wriggles will soon turn into karate chops and kicks. Being pregnant is like having your own little karate dojo on the go. I guess that makes mom the sensei.
Your baby started making pee weeks ago so you know it was just a matter of time before they starting working on number two. Around the 22nd week the things your baby is ingesting (intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo hair, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water) will start to accumulate as a sticky by-product in their bowel. Don't worry this sticky by-product, called meconium, wont end up in the amniotic fluid along with their pee. Your baby wont pass this poop until after they're born. Don't be shocked when you go to change your newborn and find a black movement in their diaper. That's totally normal.
Around the 23rd week your baby is much more sensitive to sounds. Not only can your baby hear more distant sounds but you may find your baby physically responding to certain sounds like someones voice or a song. Now is a good time to introduce your child to some lullaby music.
Around the 27th week your baby could start experiencing rapid eye movement (REM) while they're sleeping. The significance of that is this the REM sleep cycle is when we dream. If mom feels random twitching during a period when the baby is thought to be sleeping it's possible those twitches are happening during REM sleep. When someone has spent months in a small dark place and has never seen the outside world what exactly do they dream about?
Around the 28th week you might start noticing some rhythmic movements coming from your little one. If it feels like a tickling sensation or a bunch of small twitches it could be your baby hiccuping.
The foods you consume while pregnant can affect the flavor of your amniotic fluid. Around the 31st week your baby's tastebuds have developed enough that they can pick up the taste of the amniotic fluid. So you're not only passing along some of your genes you might be passing along some of your flavor preferences.
Around the 32nd week will start to perform some breathing-like exercises. This exercise involves the compression and expansion of the lungs similar to what they'll be doing after they're born. Babies will have to rely on their mom's to do the blood oxygenation until they're born though.