Before I got pregnant, and early in my pregnancy, I was obsessed with what it would feel like to be pregnant. I thought it would be something I could prepare for. I wanted to be able to track even the earliest, slightest movements of my baby. Many of the moms I spoke to said it feels like bubbles in the beginning, which I took to mean that babies passed a lot of wind in-utero. However, I found it to be more of a flutter. But that leaves the question, do babies fart in the womb, or is the bubble definitely more of a flutter?
The womb is an incredibly special environment that contains multitudes of information passed between fetus and mother, and provides the ideal space in which the embryo and then fetus requires to develop. The fetal gut is nothing shy of remarkable in its evolution from embryonic collection of cells to fully functioning digestive system. However, the baby's digestive tract is mostly silent during development apart from the manufacturing of meconium, which, according to Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine acts as a type of holding place in the gut which is ideally held in the bowel until after birth. Because of this, and the absence of air pockets in the womb, babies do not pass gas in-utero.
However, after birth, all bets are off, and off in a grand fashion. Let me tell you something about baby farts — they're hilarious. When babies are first born, they sometimes have some difficulty getting things to go where they need to. Think about it, when are you most likely to clear a room? It's probably not after you've been lying about all day. No, it's during yoga or after a run or while you're walking around. It's all about downward motion and posture, according to a scientist at Discover Magazine. The act of movement, upright posture, and especially squatting helps to get those bubbles where they're going. (In the case of little brothers everywhere, it's aimed clearly at their older, much more mature sister who will never forget and tell their girlfriend this story at a very inopportune time.)
For babies who are about as coordinated as a jellyfish stranded on the sand, it can get stuck, making them pissy and gassy little things who require your assistance. Where I delivered, the nurses showed me how to bicycle my babies' little legs and massage their tummies to help them pass that gas, and it's comedy gold. When they're wee little, and you press their knees to their chest, it's like you're hitting the "fart" button that works almost every time.
Coincidentally, for both of my children, this is also the "smile" button. Because, lets be honest, farts are nothing if not a sweet relief and fun to chuckle at. Babies get this. It's only less funny when it's your little brother and he farts at you in a small, enclosed space.
Do babies fart in the womb? No. They simply lack the ability and resources necessary to do it. All those bubbles you felt early in pregnancy were just the sloshing of amniotic fluid with the movement of the baby inside the womb. The bubbles you feel later in pregnancy that feel like they're emanating from the womb are actually coming from your own digestive tract which is pressed against your growing uterus and reporting feeling through it, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
They're not breaking wind in utero, and that may seem strange, but it's normal. Babies save all their gas for the outside world because they're givers.
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