Ever wondered what birth’s like from a newborn’s point of view? Baby sensory expert Megan Faure is your guide
It’s been 200 days since I became a little person. To be honest I wasn’t really feeling anything back then as I was only a little cluster of cells, but when my mum was 8 weeks pregnant, I started to feel the touch of my umbilical cord and my hands on my face. Over the past nine months I’ve been developing each and every body sense, including touch, vision, hearing, smell and taste.
I’ll never forget the first time I tasted chocolate. I was only 14 weeks old and just after my mum ate a piece of chocolate cake, the flavours entered the water I float in (they call this amniotic fluid) and I have to say, I fell in love. Chocolate’s the answer to womb tension! I love sweet flavours as opposed to sour or bitter ones.
Today I felt the overwhelming urge to turn upside down – the earth’s gravity seemed to be pulling my head downwards. My mum was so happy when this happened because I heard her say it meant I’d be born more easily if I come out head first.
At around the same time, I started to notice that mum’s tummy can be lighter or darker. As you can tell, I’ve been feeling, hearing and seeing a whole lot more than you’d think over the past few months. But last month has been really busy.
Since all my senses are well developed and the womb world is full of sensory input from my mum, her body, my body and the outside world, I’ve been noticing all sorts of things. Most of the sensory information in my womb world is soothing, like deep pressure, white noise and a rocking motion as my mum walks.
Imagine my confusion when I woke up this morning and felt the space around me shrink a lot tighter than before. Just as I thought I was going to get squashed completely, my mum’s uterus relaxed. Whew, that was weird! Hold on… here it comes again. Hold up mum, what’s going on? My womb walls are giving me another squeeze. Now don’t get me wrong, I like tight squeezes, but I must say these today are a little bit too much.
To be honest, as my space has become tighter each month, I’ve enjoyed the all-day hug. Our brains respond to a certain amount of deep pressure, which is why mum loves her pregnancy massages, and a good deep hug from dad. I think it’s because she remembers how nice it is to be tightly hugged in this womb world.
Suddenly I’m feeling like I must get out of here. As nice as it’s been, I have the sudden urge to stretch my legs and move on. Who knows what’s out there. Hey world, here I come! I didn’t think anything could squeeze as much until I enter this narrow space they call the birth canal. I can hear my mum groaning. I’ve been hearing her voice for the past three months, but never this sound. It’s deep and vibrates right through me. In the distance, I hear Dad’s voice. I think they both sound anxious.
I can feel the stress hormones buzzing around in my brain. These hormones, including one they call cortisol, are affecting my heart rate, but in a good way. This little bit of stress is preparing me for my next big challenge – taking my first breath. Right now I don’t need to breathe as my umbilical cord delivers blood with oxygen to my brain. But in a few moments, the change in pressure and temperature will make my lungs open for the first time and I’ll start breathing on my own.
It’s been seven hours since I became aware of that first contraction and suddenly I can feel cold air on my head. One more squeeze and a big moan from mum, and my head emerges from my womb world.
I’m completely overwhelmed! It’s cold and white and noisy. I give one last push with my legs – phew, this has been hard work – and I’m free. First one shoulder, then the other, and suddenly I’m held by huge hands and taken from my tight womb space and placed on mum’s chest. My eyes are having a hard time focusing in this bright light. I’m grateful when someone turns the lights down, and although I’ve never seen a face before, the eyes I’m now looking into fascinate me.
Out of the blue, the mouth near the eyes speaks and I realise this is my mum. Wow, she’s beautiful! She’s so soft and is lightly touching my hands, which I love because it’s a new sensation.
I’m taken from my mum and placed on a scale, which is cold and very hard. I start to yell. My head feels cold and the bitter smell of disinfectant overwhelms me. I want my mum or dad.
Thankfully, mum wants me to be near as much as I want to be with her. She swaddles me in a soft blanket and the gentle hug of the blanket soothes me as it feels similar to the womb walls. Mum holds me to her breast and I start to suckle, just like I sucked my hands in the womb. Mum smells wonderful and the sweet taste of colostrum (first milk) soothes me. This is almost like being back in the womb; I’m so comforted by the familiar sensory smells, tastes and feels. Welcome to my new world!
A baby’s skull bones aren’t actually fused at birth. This means as your newborn’s head squeezes into the birth canal, the skull bones overlap each other, allowing your baby’s head to decrease in diameter to exit the womb.
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