You're definitely an expectant mother when you know exactly when your growing baby graduates from poppy seed to blueberry. I had one of those charts, too. My dad printed and laminated it for me because, you know, dads. I liked having a frame of reference, but it was strange to have my baby compared to an inanimate object. It's also weird to assume a growing fetus is doing adult-like things (because science tells us they can't). It helps to pass the time, though, so yes: there are things your baby is definitely doing in the womb. (And if you think about the few things your fetus is actually doing inside the womb, too, you can definitely start to forget about how swollen your damn ankles are.)
I had a terrible pregnancy. Truly, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. (OK, to be fair, maybe I wish it on Tomi Lahren, but only when I'm at my pettiest, OK?) However, it really helped me to know that my suffering wasn't for naught. Following my baby's progress week by week made the months of nausea more bearable. My morning (read: all day) sickness abated about the time I felt my baby's first kicks. From that point on, even when I was stricken with everything from headaches to hemorrhoids, it was easy to imagine the amazing feats of my tiny, still-growing fetus.
There's a lot going on inside your uterus, pregnant lady. You won't like everything your baby is doing (I'm looking at you, meconium), but you can't help but be impressed. So if you're having a miserable pregnancy, trust me when I say it helps to imagine what your little one is doing in there. Hey, it's only weird if it doesn't work.
Plotting World Domination
OK, maybe they're not advanced enough to contemplate the purpose of human existence, but who am I to say they're not thinking their own deep thoughts? Or at least how to make mommy throw up again. The two hemispheres of the brain form early on, and brainwaves can be recorded by week six.
Your baby is starting from scratch. They grow from a tiny bundle of cells (a blastocyte) to an embryo with three layers. From those layers develop the nervous system, organs like the lungs and intestines, and the circulatory system. So when your partner asks you what you did all day, let them know you grew a bladder while sitting on the couch. #Roasted
I mean, your baby starts out with webbed hands and feet and a tail, so it should come as no surprise that swimming comes naturally to your little duckling. By 10 weeks, your baby's arms and legs can bend, and there's plenty of room at this point. You can be sure your miniature Michael Phelps is doing laps in there, whether you can feel it or not.
Watching 'Hell's Kitchen'
OK, maybe not watching the actual show, but they're definitely listening. There's a reason experts tell expectant moms to talk, read, and sing to their babies. They can detect some noises by 16 weeks, although given their environment they're understandably muffled. Studies even show an increase in fetal heartbeat in response to their mother's voice as well as postnatal recognition. I sang my fair share of "Twinkle, Twinkle," but I'm convinced my daughter got an equal amount of Gordon Ramsay yelling expletives.
Dancing Like No One Is Watching
I've done everything from ballet and bellydancing to flamenco and aerial pole, so I figured I would have a tiny dancer on my hands. I don't have video evidence of my baby's dance parties like a few lucky moms, but I knew she was in there hitting the dab like the millennial baby she is.
Just not when you are, but I probably don't have to tell you that. By week 26, baby has developed a distinct sleep-wake pattern. If you're anything like me, your baby is most awake when you are (like when you're driving or trying, in vain, to sleep) and snoozing when rocked by your movement. Which is really awesome (if by awesome, you mean f*cking terrible, which I do), especially after they're born and are incapable of differentiating between night and day.
If you know me, you saw this coming. I don't shy away from the gross. So yes, your baby excretes inside you, but it's not like they're dropping a frat guy-sized deuce. The umbilical cord filters out most waste, but some of it gets stored in the baby's lower intestine. Normally, that comes out in the form of a black, sticky, tar-like substance in baby's first diaper.
Awww, is it just me or is hiccuping in utero the cutest thing your unborn child can do? They start doing it early, but you usually don't feel it until about 27 weeks. To me, it felt like a series of regular little jerks. Don't worry, mom. It's totally normal and happens when some of the amniotic fluid baby is constantly swallowing gets in the lungs. The diaphragm simply contracts to expel it.
OMG. For real? Yes! Your baby is practicing everything in there, and that includes facial expressions. 4-D ultrasounds have even caught some babies in the smiling act. But their emotions run the full gamut, so while they can put on a happy face, they can also cry. Yes, quivering lower lip and all.
There's a reason you crave ice cream but can't touch chicken. The nutrients of the food you consume cross the placenta, and your baby can taste by 20 weeks. Your baby is essentially swallowing flavored amniotic fluid (it's like a vanilla steamer, only it's all the flavors and gross) and starts to develop a preference that shows up later in life. You can help shape your baby's palate, so keep the panang curry coming.
In other news, unborn babies also lick your placenta (because it's not just toddlers who put weird sh*t in their mouth... literally, my friend's baby recently pooped in the bathtub and ate it). Babies be all, "I'll have some uterine lining to go, please."
Training To Be The Next American Ninja Warrior
You should feel your baby's movements somewhere between 16 and 25 weeks. It can feel like butterflies at first, but it graduates to jabs and kicks. Whether it's karate or the can-can, your baby's movements are reassuring. Doing kick counts can help you monitor baby's wellbeing.
Fetuses are little hoarders, but, like, in a good way. At week 37, the umbilical cord starts passing antibodies to your little one. This will ensure that their underdeveloped immune system can handle the germs they'll encounter outside the womb. That's super cool, but your baby will undoubtably thank you when you get them vaccinated on schedule.
Preparing For Their Arrival
Your baby is practicing all the skills they'll need to come into the world safety, including breathing. Even though they get all the oxygen they need from mom, they go through the motions in preparation for that first breath. They even "walk" along the uterine wall. They ready their body for their grand entry into the world by turning themselves upside down (97 percent do this, according to Parents).
Perhaps most important, however, baby has become bonded to you. They're the only person in the world who knows what your heartbeat sounds like from the inside, and believe me, they can't wait to meet you.