Babies In the Womb
By Marci Lewellen on July 5th, 2010

God has given us the amazing honor and blessing of caring for and loving the only beings created in His image. Women have the privilege of carrying an eternal being in their own body. This God-design was intended to create a perfect, safe and loving environment for growth and development for these delicate lives. God trusted us with His creation.

Of all the “important” things we do, how many of them have eternal consequences? Caring for a child is one of the few things we do that has eternal ramifications.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  Psalm 139:13-16

It is so important to keep in mind how complex a baby in the womb is.  God is at work to bless and form this little one and we are able to partner with Him while he is forming this life.

If we understand what babies in the womb are experiencing, processing and learning we can respond in ways that positively affect their emotional and physical well-being.  We can also help babies who have had less than optimal circumstances even before birth by understanding their womb experiences and learning techniques that enable healing.

A baby’s brain is not suddenly activated by their first gulp of air but instead is very active prior to birth.  Research shows that the actual moment of birth (around 40 weeks) is no different neurologically for a baby than it was 12 weeks earlier.

Months before birth, babies are using their fully functioning 5 senses, absorbing, internalizing, remembering and forming opinions about who they are and what life is like.

Consider just a few of the facts:

*      A baby can distinguish between the voice of Mom and that of a stranger at the time of birth.

*      Babies dream about their life, experiences, and sensations while they are in the womb.

*      Research has shown babies to be startled at loud noises while within the womb.

*      Babies savor their mother’s meals, picking up the food tastes of a culture before they are born.

*      Babies can remember and respond to a familiar story or song that was repeated to them while in the womb.

Heidelise Als, a developmental psychologist at Harvard Medical School, said that the amount of tactile stimulation a baby gives is fascinating. It touches a hand to the face, one hand to the other hand, clasps its feet, touches its foot to its leg, and feels the umbilical cord.

Babies react to pain, stress and the emotions of the mother:

Babies have been known to react to the experience of amniocentesis by shrinking away from the needle, or, if a needle nicks them, they may turn and attack it. Following amniocentesis, heart rates gyrate. Some babies remain motionless, and their breathing motions may not return to normal for several days.

When a baby in the womb experiences pain, they do not have the air necessary to make sound, but they do respond with vigorous body and breathing movements as well as hormonal rushes.

Many researchers have shown that the emotions of the mother have a direct influence on the baby in the womb.

Given that babies in the womb experience life through their 5 senses –feeling what their biological mom is feeling, smelling, and tasting, we can expect that babies coming into a new home may experience culture shock as they already have developed ideas about the world and their personhood.  If you know that your baby’s experience was less than optimal you can do many simple things that will help your baby connect with you and feel at home in his or her new environment.

Here are just a few easy things you can do that will make a world of difference for your baby:

*      Spend lots of time gazing – your gaze sparks activity in the brain.

*     Carry your baby in a snugli – body to body, face to face, or their head to your chest as much as possible.

*      Babies learn to regulate their emotions by listening to the rhythm of their mother’s breathing and heart rate. A calm and peaceful response to chaos will help a baby learn to respond in a calm and peaceful way.

*      Massage baby 20 minutes a day while smiling and using a high voice because this is amazing stimulus for your baby’s brain.

*      Hold and rock your baby with loving eye contact, smiles and singing or reading in happy “baby talk”.   Happy baby talk is actually helpful :-).  Adopted babies need a lot of this at first to make up for patterns of thought that were developed in the womb that is contrary to what you want him or her to feel.

*      Don’t let your new baby cry alone.   Adoptive parents need to establish a new trust cycle that will last a lifetime!

Take a moment and think about:

What did your child experience through their 5 senses in the womb?

What feelings/hormones did your baby experience?

What can you do to help with any experiences that may have been less than ideal?

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! Psalm 139:17-18


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