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In Touch With Your Baby

Babies’ senses develop while they are in the uterus. You can start to establish a close bond with your baby even before she is born.

We now know that unborn babies are aware of much of their surroundings and are able to respond physically to a variety of stimuli. We also understand a great deal about the way a baby’s body function in the uterus and what she can hear and see. It can be a warm and rewarding experience for parents to capitalize on the baby’s awareness by making contact as she grows.

Studies of unborn babies and their parents suggest that babies remember certain aspects of their life in the uterus. In one study, babies whose pregnant mothers regularly sat down each afternoon to relax and watch their favorite program on TV were found to relax after the birth whenever the familiar sound of the show’s signature tune was played to them.

Unborn babies have a sense of taste as well as likes and dislikes. Researchers added saccharin to the amniotic fluid and observed (via ultrasound) that the babies’ swallowing rate doubled. When a foul-tasting oil was added, the babies grimaced, and their swallowing rate dropped sharply.

Your baby’s ears are acutely sensitive from the 24th week on. Inside the uterus, the baby can hear your heartbeat and digestive noises, the sound of your voice and that of other people. The sound of a heartbeat like noise always soothes a newborn, and tapes of womb noises, simulated or real, are available for use after the birth to calm the baby’s crying.

A baby’s eye muscles develop early in pregnancy, and from about week 16 the baby becomes sensitive to light. If a bright light is shone on your stomach, your baby may move away from the light. She will perceive the sunlight if you are sunbathing with your stomach uncovered.

The neural circuits of the brain are fully developed in a baby of 28 weeks’ gestation. At week 32, brain-wave tests detect REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which in adults indicates a dream state. It seems likely that the unborn baby is reliving, in dreams, Some of the experiences she has already had of moving, hearing, seeing, and feeling.

What you can do…

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