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How often do babies sleep in the womb
What's It Like in the Womb?
Jesse Rapp wasn't born until May, but he and his parents were playing together long before that.
At night, Morgan often rested his head on Richele's pregnant belly, calling Jesse by name and feeling him wriggle in response. Sometimes the couple would play games. They'd gently poke first one side of Richele's abdomen, then the other, and watch as Jesse followed their touch by poking the same side back. They even teased him by poking the same side twice and laughed as he poked the "wrong" side back.
All their prenatal shenanigans paid off. In the recovery room, it seemed abundantly clear Jesse recognized his parents right away, turning his head in their direction when either one spoke. When he cried, he'd calm down instantly at the sound of their voices.
"It was so exciting because there was this trust and communication and a certain sense of bonding between us right away," says Morgan Rapp. "And for him, I think, it was reassuring because he had a sense already of where he was. "
Thanks to ultrasound and other high-tech tools allowing a peek inside the womb, scientists have discovered a virtual sensory playground in which your baby is living. The fetus responds to your voice and other sounds in the room, reacts to light and dark shadows as you move from place to place, tumbles as you switch positions, even tastes sweet or spicy foods you've just eaten.
Experts believe these experiences cause physiological changes in your fetus' sensory systems that are necessary for normal brain growth. But the question is: Is more better?
There's already an array of tapes and gadgets on the market that help parents talk, sing or pipe classical music into the womb via little speakers on the uterus. One researcher has even developed a "curriculum" designed to speak to the fetus and supposedly boost intelligence, coordination and well-being.
Don't feel pressured to pull out the credit card just yet.
Most researchers studying fetal development say Mother Nature and the stimuli your baby naturally receives in the womb from your everyday conversations and activities are good enough to prepare your baby for the outside world. Study of how the human brain develops still is in its infancy, but there's no convincing scientific evidence that deliberate fetal acoustic stimulation, as it's called, influences intelligence, creativity or later development.
"Nature does a pretty good job of programming or presenting the necessary kinds of stimulation that a fetus should get at the appropriate times during development," says William Fifer, a developmental psychobiologist at Columbia University. In fact, experts worry that sticking speakers or headphones up to your abdomen could actually disrupt your baby's sleep patterns or the natural order of growth.
If there's any benefit to spending time talking to your baby or letting your favorite music filter naturally through the uterine wall, it's as much for the parents as for the baby, they say. "I think most of the purpose of talking to your baby is to give people a chance to sort of attach, to get used to the fact that this new creature is going to be a big part of your life," says Fifer.
Look Who's Listening
Your baby's hearing is intact by the third trimester, when sonograms show that a fetus will actually turn its head to respond to a sound. But studies have shown that your unborn child can hear sounds as early as 20 weeks and will be startled by loud noises at about 25 weeks. Very loud sounds can cause changes in your baby's heart rate and movements, and sometimes even cause them to empty their bladders.
Instead of the womb being the quiet place scientists once assumed, it is actually awash in sounds, particularly the whooshing of your blood and digestive system, the thumping of your heart and your voice, which sounds louder than it would transmitted through the air since it reverberates through the bones and fluids in your body.
Noises from outside your body are more muffled but they also make it through surprisingly clearly, says Robert Abrams, a fetal physiologist in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Florida. Low frequency sounds, such as those above middle C, tend to be more audible than higher frequency ones. Men's voices, for instance, come through clearer than women's, and music also is easily recognizable.
It appears the fetus can even hear specific speech patterns and intonations, although probably not recognize words themselves, Fifer says. Some studies have shown that babies after birth will recognize -- and be comforted by -- a story read repeatedly to them while in the womb or even by particular songs, like the theme from a television show watched regularly during pregnancy.
Much has been made of the benefits of playing classical music to children because it supposedly enhances spatial development. Why not, some speculate, do the same for the unborn child?
Indeed, fetuses breathe in time to music they enjoy, according to Dr. Rene Van de Carr, a California OB-Gyn who teaches parents how to stimulate unborn babies through music and other exercises at the Prenatal University in Hayward, Calif. He is also author of "While You're Expecting ... Your Own Prenatal Classroom. "
Dr. Van de Carr claims such aural stimulation not only increases neural connections in the brain and enhances brain growth, but encourages parents to be more attentive and interactive and sets expectations for achievement later on. He suggests expectant parents stimulate their babies for about five to 10 minutes twice a day. The key is not to get too repetitive with any one activity or the baby will tune it out, he says.
Yet much of the hullabaloo over the so-called Mozart effect has been exaggerated, says Janet DiPietro, a developmental psychologist who studies fetal development at Johns Hopkins University. The research has been done primarily on adults, and the only children that have been studied were 3- and 4-year-olds, who were actually playing the music on keyboards rather than simply listening to it.
And many experts say the jury's still out on whether it's in-utero interventions -- or simply genetics and a nurturing environment after birth -- that make your baby smarter, more musically inclined or better adjusted.
"I tell people that if they like classical music then play it, but if they don't, then don't," says DiPietro. "It think it's irrelevant to the fetus, unless the mom likes to come home, put her feet up and turn on music that's relaxing to her. That's the way the baby gets the effect."
Get Those Brussels Sprouts Outta Here
Your baby's sense of touch begins to develop early in pregnancy as it explores the uterine wall, umbilical cord and even its own body parts, spending the most time touching its face. As early as the ninth week, your baby will respond when its lips or areas around the mouth are touched. By the eighth month, it moves towards the source with mouth open, the beginnings of the rooting reflex, which the baby needs to begin nursing and sucking on a bottle after birth.
Smell and taste are often hard to separate, so they're described as chemosensations. Just try sucking on a Jelly Belly while plugging up your nose, suggests Julie Mennella, a psychobiologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. From about the fourth month of pregnancy, the fetus is gulping and inhaling a variety of foods you've eaten through the amniotic fluid, and by the third trimester, your baby can tell whether it's bitter, sweet, sour or even garlicky, and will show preferences for certain tastes.
Researchers say that learning about tastes and smells in the womb are actually preparing your baby for life after birth. Not only are newborns comforted by their mother's smell, which is likely introduced first through the amniotic fluid, but they're already familiar in the same way with the taste of mother's breast milk. Some animal studies even suggest that the more varied a pregnant mom's diet, the more open the offspring will be to different foods.
Fetuses also begin to develop a sense of balance from their movements in utero. Not only are they gently tumbling and floating in the amniotic fluid, but your own movements will cause the baby's position to change. Those movements stimulate a structure in the ear that helps the brain process information about motion and body position. By 25 weeks the fetus displays a righting reflex, which may be responsible for most babies turning head down before delivery.
This motion also stimulates emotional changes in your baby. You may notice that your baby is more still when you're very active, and then at night becomes active when you're still. Once your baby is born, you'll probably find that when they're fussy, you can quiet them by rocking them, reminiscent of the movements they experienced in the womb.
Your baby's sight is the last sense to be developed and won't be fine-tuned until after birth, but growth inside the womb begins early. The eye pockets form by about five weeks of pregnancy, and by the fourth month, the eyes are almost completely formed. Your baby's eyelids won't open until the seventh month, when the fetus will begin opening and closing them and rolling the eyes around, as if testing them out. A bright light can penetrate the uterus and may make the fetus more active.
Finding the Edge
When Kurt and Cathy Meyer of Fishers, Ind. , were expecting their daughter, who was born almost a year ago, they did everything they could to give Marie a running start. They read to her. They talked to her. They even researched all the different prenatal stimulation products on the market.
They settled on BabyPlus, a "cardiac curriculum" developed by Seattle developmental psychologist Brent Logan. The 16-tape series of audio tapes deliver sonic patterns to stimulate the fetus' nervous system and exercise its developing brain.
"We were looking for every possible competitive edge for our child," says Kurt Meyer. "From a parent's perspective, if you deprive your child of any opportunity to learn, you haven't done your job."
It's hard to prove the effect BabyPlus had on Marie. But the couple is convinced the prenatal stimulation allowed her to sleep better after birth and reach developmental milestones, like saying words and understanding when others spoke to her, faster.
"We have a lady who watches her three days a week, a mother of two who watches three other children about the same age as Marie, and almost a week doesn't go by when she hasn't told us that Marie is doing something, where the other kids aren't quite there yet," says Meyer, who owns a commercial real estate company.
The BabyPlus system consists of a belt with two tiny speakers fastened onto the mother's abdomen for two one-hour periods per day over 16 weeks in the second trimester. The series of tapes features an imitation of the mother's heartbeat, only the rhythms get progressively more complicated and faster with each tape. The cost of the system is $180.
"Since we knew the mother's blood pulse is serving as the fetus' most elementary instruction, why not create a more intelligent heart, an orchestrated heart, that would be able to provide successive progressions of schooling?" Logan says.
He says stimulating additional brain connections early is particularly important since a significant portion of brain cells naturally die off in the later stage of pregnancy. "Like exercising a muscle, by getting the fetal brain to oscillate faster at more mature rhythms, you're able to lock into place a more mature brain," he says.
But Fifer and other experts say there's no scientific data supporting these claims and worry that fiddling with this timing by amplifying sound with speakers or headphones into the womb could be disruptive to your baby's sleep patterns, and even harmful. For most of the pregnancy, your baby sleeps about 95 percent of the time, even as you feel it moving or hiccupping.
He also worries the stimuli could confound the timing of brain development established through years of evolution. "The message is that it's not a good thing to lose these extra brain cells, when in fact that's how nature programs things ... to make room for the connections and wiring that turn a brain into a mind," says Fifer.
"We actually know very little about the developing brain and the environment it needs to develop well," agrees DiPietro. "No one would argue that you wouldn't stick a speaker next to a newborn baby when they're sound asleep and blast music in its ear."
The same goes for the fetus. "We have no idea what it's doing to the developing brain, and to assume it's a good thing is really foolish. It's much more likely to be interfering with normative brain development," DiPietro says. There's even some research showing that fetus will tune out repetitive external stimuli.
DiPietro puts the concept of prenatal stimulation right up there with flash cards and early reading programs -- that it puts even more pressure on parents to overstimulate their kids.
"When you start trying to create kind of a super baby before they're even born, you set up a bad dynamic between parents and children," she says. "You're expecting a baby to be a certain way. Why not wait until the baby's born, see who they are, then try to support their particular needs and abilities."
Do Babies Sleep in the Womb?
If you’re subscribed to a pregnancy newsletter (like ours!) one of the highlights is seeing the progress that your little one is making each week.
Knowing that they’re currently growing little ears or that they’ve started to blink helps you to connect with the tiny human you’re waiting to welcome into the world.
As the pregnancy progresses, you’ll likely see familiar routines start to develop. Maybe it seems your little one is very active each evening as you’re cuddling on the couch with your partner. Or your surrogate might mention that she wakes up each morning to tiny kicks and flutters.
You may wonder whether this means your baby is sometimes asleep and sometimes awake. You may wonder what they’re aware of while inside the womb. We’ve checked out the research to give you answers to these questions and more.
Yes. In fact, as far as we can tell, babies spend the majority of their time in the womb sleeping. Between 38 and 40 weeks gestation they’re spending almost 95 percent of their time sleeping.
Less is known about sleep during early fetal development. Technology has limits, even now. Most of the studies on fetal sleep early in pregnancy rely on examining rapid eye movement, a feature of REM sleep. Sometime during the seventh month of fetal development the first rapid eye movements are observed.
Studies of sleep demonstrate that there are four stages: the first two are lighter sleep, while the second two represent deep, healing sleep.
In addition, there’s REM sleep, which begins about 90 minutes into a sleep cycle. This stage is characterized by a rise in breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. The eyes move quickly and brain waves are similar to those of someone who is awake. This is the stage where you are likely to dream.
As mentioned, there are limits to what researchers can learn about fetal sleep, but based on what we understand about sleep in general, it is possible that babies are dreaming during REM stages. As to what they’re dreaming about, we can’t know for sure.
But some could argue that they must be dreaming about food, based on the intensity of those pregnancy cravings, right?
Researchers have used a variety of methods to study fetal sleep behaviors.
Researchers in a 2010 study tracked fetal heart rate and found that the results demonstrated regular sleep and waking patterns.
In a 2008 study, researchers used fetal electrocardiographic (FECG) recordings to compare the same subjects both in utero and as newborns. They tracked four states — quiet sleep, active sleep, quiet waking, and active waking. Each state was identified by eye movements, heart rate, and movement.
They found that there were similarities in the sleep patterns established in utero, but that newborns who had spent more fetal time sleeping showed more mature sleep patterns as newborns, meaning that they slept less than they had pre-birth.
That being said, don’t expect your little one to be a great sleeper just because they don’t wake you up all night during pregnancy. While newborns still tend to spend most of their time sleeping, they should be waking for feedings every few hours around the clock.
Researchers in a 2009 study turned their attention to fetal sheep to understand the earliest sleep patterns that are harder to study in human subjects. Brain activity in the fetal sheep showed patterns of behavior that suggested early, immature sleep cycles.
Sleep isn’t just about rest and dreaming, of course. A small 2018 study of premature infants showed that movement during REM sleep helps them to process their surroundings and sparks brain development.
Much of the research on sleep that’s available focuses on the effects of a lack of sleep, but what evidence we do have indicates that sleep is an important factor for brain development and overall health.
Your baby’s brain begins to develop as early as 1 week after conception. In the early weeks the brain, along with other important organs, is growing in size but is not well-defined. As the weeks move on it grows in both size and complexity.
Taste buds begin to develop in the first trimester. Flavors and smells from mom’s diet are present in amniotic fluid.
Movement begins long before you’re able to feel it (usually around 20 weeks). While you may not be aware of all movements, your fetus likely moves around 50 times or more in an hour. These movements don’t necessarily mean that they’re awake though — they move during both sleeping and waking cycles.
The structure of the middle ear develops in the second trimester. Around week 25 or 26, your baby may demonstrate signs that they recognize your voice.
So while your little one may spend most of their time in utero sleeping, much is happening at the same time. Even in their dozing state they are developing their senses and an awareness of their surroundings and preparing for their big debut.
What does a child do in the mother's womb, how does it develop when the mother sleeps
Pregnancy and childbirth
During the second pregnancy, a woman already listens to the baby, because she is interested in how he behaves there, how he prepares for the appearance in this world. During the entire pregnancy, there is an active growth and development of the fetus, and how it feels depends largely on the mother.
How a fetus develops
Four weeks after fertilization, a tiny creature emerges from a small cell with a beating heart. At 12 weeks, tiny hands with nerve points on each finger form in the fetus, and facial features become more expressive. During this period, the baby is already beginning to express his feelings on a small face and feel the emotional state of the mother.
A child in the womb receives all the necessary substances for development and growth, including oxygen through the umbilical cord
mother's organs, and he feels her mood. Sounds play a special role in the development of the fetus, so pregnant women are advised to listen to soothing music, sing a lullaby and read fairy tales. It is especially necessary to do this constantly after 25 weeks, because by this time the hearing organs are fully developed.
It is necessary to communicate with the baby in a quiet environment, stroking the belly with circular movements - the gentle touch of the mother is very important for the baby.
The baby actively reacts to heavy music, abrupt movements of the mother, loud blows or a quarrel between the parents. This can cause great harm to the unborn baby and lead to miscarriage or premature birth.
What the baby is doing
After 20 weeks, the baby already actively begins to show his emotions and reacts to the mother's mood. Therefore, a woman should engage in positive deeds and maintain a calm mood.
The future mental development of the child largely depends on the nervousness of the woman during the entire period of pregnancy. All the emotional feelings of the mother, the baby feels because of the hormones that are present in the body.
How the baby develops at different times is observed with the help of ultrasound
The baby is able to silently inform his mother that he is hungry, moving or strong jolts. The baby receives all the nutrients through the placenta, if there is a sharp clamp in the body, then the baby lacks the necessary nutrition or oxygen.
The future psyche of an infant is greatly influenced if a pregnant woman has been under stress for a long time. A child can grow up closed, and adaptation in society will be difficult for him.
It is extremely important for a pregnant woman to eat right and not to abuse smoking, strong tea and spicy foods - this makes the amniotic fluid bitter, which is very harmful for the baby, as the amniotic fluid absorbs the taste of food.
An amazing connection
There is an amazing connection between mother and baby, because he always reacts to any change in the emotional state of a woman. If the mother is in a good mood, then the child is also happy, because despite the fact that the baby is in the womb, he can not only smile, but also cry.
When the mother sleeps, the baby usually sleeps too. But if he is uncomfortable, if he feels discomfort, he will definitely let you know about it with light pushes.
When carrying a child, you should not get upset over trifles, let alone cry. Experts recommend avoiding loud sounds, refraining from watching horror and action movies, and not listening to too loud and heavy music.
A pregnant woman should try to control her emotions and not forget that the baby feels everything. The development of a child in the womb is a wonderful and mysterious process, and a woman during this period requires as much love, attention and care as possible.
Natalya Evgenieva, Julia Ionina
Pregnancy and childbirth
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What does a child do while he is in his mother’s stomach
August 17, 2018
In 9 months, a child goes a long way from a tiny embryo to a chubby baby and already in the womb acquires some features that will remain with him for life: for example , you can understand whether he will become right-handed or left-handed and what kind of food he will prefer. In a fairly short period of time, a lot of interesting things happen to a child, and today we invite you to go through the path from birth to birth with your baby.
1st trimester of pregnancy 1st–2nd week
So the long journey began. For the first 4 days, the future person is smaller than a grain of salt - its size is only 0.14 mm. However, starting from the 5th day, it begins to grow and by the 6th it almost doubles - up to as much as 0.2 mm. On the 4th day, the embryo "comes" to where it will spend the next 9 months - into the uterus, and on the 8th day it is implanted in its wall.
Around the 20th day of pregnancy, a very important event occurs: the neural tube appears, which will then turn into the spinal cord and brain of the child. Already on the 21st day, his heart begins to beat and all important organs, such as the kidneys and liver, begin to form. The eyes have not yet taken their usual position - the bubbles from which they will then take shape are located on the sides of the head. By the end of the 1st month, the embryo has a circulatory system, and the spine and muscles begin to develop.
At the 5th week, the hands appear in the embryo, however, the fingers are still very difficult to distinguish, but in the joints the arms and legs are already bent. It was at this time that the external genitalia begin to form, but it is not yet possible to see on an ultrasound whether it is a boy or a girl. By the way, since its appearance, the embryo has grown a lot - it has increased by as much as 10 thousand times. Already now, the baby's face is beginning to form, and the eyes, which will be closed for a very long time, darken, becoming more human-like.
The 7th week of pregnancy is the time when the baby begins to move, however, so far completely unnoticed by the mother, and the fingers and toes become almost the same as in adults. At this stage, the rudiments of milk teeth appear in the embryo and the reproductive system develops, and the kidneys begin to produce urine. Despite the fact that the growth of the fetus is only 2.5 cm, it acquires its own facial expressions, it has eyelids, and the tip of the nose becomes more defined.
By this time, the baby has already grown well - its weight is 4 grams, and its height is 2-3 cm. Despite its tiny size, the brain is already divided into two hemispheres, and milk teeth and taste buds are beginning to form. The baby's tail and membranes between the fingers on the hands disappear, he begins to swim in the amniotic fluid and move even more actively, although still unnoticed by the mother. It was at this time that the child's individual facial features appear, and hair begins to grow on the head.
At this time, the genital organs are formed in the child, so it is already possible to find out his sex on an ultrasound scan, although the probability of an error is still high. The child still looks a little alien: he has a big head and a small body, but his face is more and more like an adult. The ears are almost in the right position, eyebrows and eyelashes appear. The cartilage that makes up the skeleton gradually ossifies, new blood vessels appear, and hormone production begins. By the way, the baby has already grown up to 6 cm and weighs about 20 grams.
Baby at 14 weeks pregnant.
Despite the fact that the child's head is half the length of the entire body, the face is more and more reminiscent of an adult, and the rudiments of all 20 milk teeth have already been formed in the oral cavity. The child is already able to put his finger in his mouth, but he will learn to suck a little later. Due to the active formation of blood vessels, the baby's skin is red and very thin, so vellus hair appears on the body - lanugo, which is necessary to maintain a special lubricant that protects against hypothermia.
2nd trimester of pregnancy 15th–16th week
By the 15th week, the baby has grown to 10 cm and is gaining weight - now he weighs about 70 grams. Despite the fact that the eyes are still quite low, the face is already quite recognizable, moreover, the child begins to “make faces”, since the facial muscles are well developed. By this time, he already knows how to suck his thumb, and the sebaceous and sweat glands begin their work.
And finally, the child's auditory canals are formed, so he begins to distinguish sounds well and hears the mother's voice, moreover, he is able to recognize it. In addition to the milk teeth, the embryos of the molars also appear, the bones are finally formed and begin to harden. By the way, the bones of the skull will remain mobile until birth - when passing through the birth canal, they will overlap each other to make it easier for the baby to be born. But the mother is finally beginning to feel the movements of the child, who has grown to 14 cm and 190 grams.
Baby at 20 weeks pregnant.
Despite the fact that the child's eyes are still closed, he is already well oriented in the surrounding space. Moreover, now you can understand whether the child will be right-handed or left-handed, because right now he begins to use his dominant hand more actively. Fingerprints appear on the baby's fingers - another unique sign of each of us. By the way, the child is already beginning to gradually distinguish day from night and is active at a certain time.
The 21st week is the time when the baby begins to gain weight due to the formation of subcutaneous fat. Soon, the folds that newborns have will appear on his arms and legs. On the 22nd week, those neurons are formed in the brain that will be with a person all his life. Very soon the child will open his eyes, he is already trying to do this, and the eyeballs move almost like an adult.
At 23 weeks, the baby may begin to dream, and his face is so formed that an ultrasound can determine whose facial features he has inherited. His skin becomes opaque, his eyes open, and the child can already react to light, moreover, bright flashes can scare him. By the 24th week, the baby grows to almost 30 cm, and its weight reaches 0.5 kg.
At this time, the taste buds of the child are finally formed and, tasting the amniotic fluid, he can frown if he does not like it. By the way, this is how eating habits are formed - already in the womb we have our favorite and unloved foods. Very soon the child will learn to blink and can already see a little, however, so far it is very, very vague.
3rd trimester of pregnancy 27th–28th week
Baby at 27–28 weeks of gestation.
If you do an ultrasound at this time, you can see how the baby smiles and intensively sucks his thumb. At this time, the baby has the first "toy" - his own umbilical cord, and he actively studies his body. At the end of the 7th month of pregnancy, the child develops an individual metabolism, which he will have all his life. The baby is already quite large - his weight reaches 1.2 kg, and his height is 35 cm.
The layer of subcutaneous fat is increasing, and the baby is becoming more and more plump and well-fed. In addition, he already knows how to cry, cough, and even sometimes hiccups - this happens, most likely, when he swallows too much amniotic fluid. By the 30th week, the baby's brain is already so developed that it is quite capable of remembering and even analyzing information.
At this time, a person has all 5 senses, and his daily routine is more and more reminiscent of the one he will follow after birth. The child hears the work of all the organs of the mother, knows her voice perfectly, thanks to which, immediately after birth, he is able to distinguish her from all other people. The baby's immune system begins to produce antibodies that will protect him from all kinds of infections that may lie in wait in the first days and months after birth.
And finally, subcutaneous fat is already formed, and lanugo disappears from the body of the fetus. By this time, the baby has grown a lot - the length of his body reaches 40 cm, and the weight is very close to or even exceeds 2 kg. The baby's nervous system is already fully formed, but the lungs are still developing.
The child yawns. 3D ultrasound at 36 weeks pregnant.
At this time, the child looks almost exactly the same as when he was born. He is still quite thin, but the layer of subcutaneous fat is increasing more and more intensively. However, his hair and nails are already fully developed, and he himself becomes so big that he has almost no room to maneuver, so he can move less than in earlier stages.
And finally, the process of forming a person has finally ended - now he is completely ready for birth, and obstetricians consider the pregnancy to be full-term. Lanugo completely disappears from his body and can only sometimes remain on his arms and legs. Since there is almost no space left in the uterus, it may seem to the mother that the child has begun to move more intensively, but in fact the force of the blows has increased, because the child's muscles have already completely formed and strengthened.
The lungs of a child continue to form until the very birth, and only at the time of birth they release the right amount of surfactant - a substance that prevents the alveoli from sticking together after the first independent breath.