Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Life before Birth

Q. When does a baby’s brain develop, and do we have to wait for this development before trying to communicate with our baby?

Around the third week after conception, a folding maneuver creates the neural tube from which the brain and spinal cord develop. If all goes well, a rapid, richly choreographed set of movements will put all the basic parts of the brain in place by eight weeks. These will not be replaced. From this foundation, brain parts will send out branches and establish billions of connections necessary for the perfect coordination of the entire nervous system. This process will continue for years after birth. Amazingly, the brain, like the heart, remains active during its own construction. Various experiences the brain has during this period including encounters with food, drink, medicine, games, accidents, and nicotine–will actually determine its final size and organization. Therefore, it is best to assume the brain is already working and to love your baby and communicate with it without any waiting period.

pregnant belly

Q. Can our baby feel pain or become emotionally upset in the womb?

Medical specialists and psychologists never thought this would be possible even for a newborn baby, but research now confirms that even babies born very prematurely express a gamut of emotions, and, without doubt, can experience excruciating pain. Ultrasound observations of behavior in utero, especially among twins, reveal a spectrum of emotions including anger, fear, and affection. Babies appear to react to needles that intrude into the womb with a mixture of shock, withdrawal, and aggression. Studies of pregnant mothers watching upsetting videos suggest that babies can become upset along with their mothers. Several studies have revealed that babies tend to become depressed when their pregnant mothers are depressed, an effect which begins in the womb and has been measured after birth.


Photo by Mark Von Minden