Pregnant women have heard it time and time again: What you eat during those nine months can have long-term effects on your child's health.
The link between a mother and child is profound, and new research suggests a physical connection even deeper than anyone thought. The profound psychological and physical bonds shared by the mother and her child begin during gestation when the mother is everything for the developing fetus, supplying warmth and sustenance, while her heartbeat provides a soothing constant rhythm.
The physical connection between mother and fetus is provided by the placenta, an organ, built of cells from both the mother and fetus, which serves as a conduit for the exchange of nutrients, gasses, and wastes. Cells may migrate through the placenta between the mother and the fetus, taking up residence in many organs of the body including the lung, thyroid muscle, liver, heart, kidney and skin. These may have a broad range of impacts, from tissue repair and cancer prevention to sparking immune disorders.
Little ones spend nine months growing in the womb and what they experience in there is still a bit of a mystery. It’s hard for doctors to test what babies are doing and learning as they hang out inside mom.
But new studies are offering intriguing clues.
Life in the womb is much busier than you might expect. "Everything that a newborn baby does, a fetus has pretty much done already,"
“They're exquisitely able to sense information over all parts of their body, although some are more sensitive than others, like around the mouth, around the feet, around the hands."
Moving around: Experts say kicking and other activity can be a reaction to mom eating or changing positions; or it might happen just because the baby feels like moving around.
Mom's emotions can also cause certain movements. The more stress pregnant women reported, the more frequently their fetuses touched their faces with their left hands, researchers said.
“This suggests maternal stress could be having on effect on the child’s behavior in the womb and highlights the importance of reducing maternal stress in pregnancy,”
The outside world affects little ones in other ways. Babies appear to recognize nursery rhymes even before they are born, according to a recent study. In utero, the baby's heart rate slowed when the rhyme was read by mom and continued to lower even when a stranger’s voice took over story time a few weeks later.
Listening: Hearing is a sense that develops early in the process.
A baby’s ears are fully formed about halfway through pregnancy, which means children may know their mom’s voice by the time they're born.
“Prenatally, it’s got this extra boost by the fact that it’s coming in through the whole body,”. When hours-old newborns are given a pacifier to suck on while hearing a recording of their mother's voice, they will suck faster, suggesting familiarity.
Taste and smell: These sensory systems develop around the 20th week of pregnancy, allowing the baby to enjoy some of mom's cravings through nutrients in the womb and maybe even leading to some future favorite foods.
Researchers have found that mothers who consistently ate carrots during the end of their pregnancy had babies who enjoyed that taste more than babies whose mothers hadn’t shared the same diet.
Sight: This is the last sense to mature, though some new evidence suggests babies are able to differentiate between light and dark in the womb.
But if you're an expectant parent, that doesn't mean you need to provide extra stimulation in order for your little one to thrive in mom's belly.
“Nature provides pretty much all the sources of stimulation that a baby is going to need,”
The sole purpose of these blogs is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained doctor/health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call us or e mail.
Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)