Some people think that the period in the womb is mostly for physical growth. Of course there is some truth to this, but there is more to it.
In the last period of pregnancy, babies begin to do things with their brain. Perhaps it is to go too far to say that they think, but studies show that babies start to respond differently to stimuli, whether from outside or inside. The brain is involved in these reactions. This is fascinating when you consider that less than a hundred years ago people thought that a newborn baby was not much more than a body with a number of reflexes. We now know a lot about the different sensory developments of babies still in the belly.
Your baby knows how you feel!
You know better than anybody else that as a mother you are bonding with your ‘bellybaby’ You are already getting to know your baby before you’ve even seen him. You know exactly what each kick and turn means. And your baby knows you too! He tastes, hears and feels your mood!
The taste of the amniotic fluid depends on your condition and your mood. Every time your baby takes a little sip of this fluid, he tastes the changes. He has a much larger number of taste buds than an older child or adult. Also, the taste buds cover an even larger area, the entire oral cavity. He is a master taster. Research has shown that if you suddenly experience something stressful, the taste of the amniotic fluid changes. Small changes, such as during a chat with the neighbor, are not easy to measure. But when you, as a mother, talk with full attention to your baby, it’s usually accompanied with a lot of emotion. And he will taste that. Such intense emotions help your baby to understand your ‘talk’ better. Similar emotions help your baby to learn to speak after birth.
Besides that he tastes what you are feeling, your baby hears what you are feeling. The mood of your baby is indeed largely determined by your mood. He picks it up when you express it. He does that by the melody of your voice, listening to the changes in the pitch of your voice. Your voice betrays the emotions you feel as you speak. The words do not need to correspond with what you feel, because he does not understand their meaning. Your heartbeat betrays you mood. Your baby hears how your heart responds to certain situations. How the beat speeds up or slows down when you are happy, frightened or sad. Your baby hears your emotions and sympathizes with you.
Your baby also reads the emotions in your breathing. You can be breathing quietly, hurriedly, be sighing, or take long pauses and so on. All this conveys a message. A message in which he in turn responds to in his own unique way.
Memories from the uterus
Newborn babies even remember things from the abdomen, though he is not aware of it. Research has shown, for example, that the ability to listen to sound, and not only hear, is significantly increased between the 36th and 37th week of pregnancy. The baby recognizes sounds that he has heard before. His memory works. The researchers discovered that when they played the same music to a 36 to 37 weeks old baby in the uterus time and again. They noted the same move every time the music began to play. A sign that the bellybaby recognized the music. A baby starts by reacting to sounds he hears from the belly. But he still does not recognize the sounds. For that he must continue to develop. And that development takes place between the 30th and the 36th week. This time the development is not in his ear, but in his brain.
Your baby will experience a lot, but very different!
Even though your baby hears, tastes and feels a lot in the belly and he is able to “remember” things, he does so very differently from the way we do. This is because his brain is not working exactly like ours. We smell that someone next to us is wearing perfume, but we do not hear and taste the perfume. A newborn baby does not yet experience those differences in sensory perception. His sensory experiences are still mixed up. All the signals that come in through his senses he experiences as a whole. As a kind of ‘soup’ of experiences. By birth your baby does not even understand he has his own existence. He thinks he is one with the rest of the world around him. That is something we can hardly imagine. With each mental leap your baby will experience the world more the way we perceive it. He learns the differences between various sensory signals and learns to recognize his own self.