How your baby feels at birth

Ever wondered what birth’s like from a newborn’s point of view? Baby sensory expert Megan Faure is your guide

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  • Getting ready: 70 days to birth

    It’s been 200 days since your baby turned from a ball of cells into a foetus and over the past seven months she has been developing each and every body sense - touch, vision, hearing, smell and even taste.

    At 14 weeks, her taste buds clicked in, and since then she's been tasting your food as the flavours drift into the amniotic fluid.

    Next, just weeks to go...

  • Engaging: 14 days to birth

    Today your baby will begin to feel an urge to turn upside down. This "engagement" turns her the right way for birth and gets her head facing the birth canal, ready to come out first. If she doesn’t get round to this, she could be breech and may need turning or birth by caesarean. Though it is possible, if fairly uncommon, to deliver a breech baby naturally.

    Now all of her senses are well developed, she’ll find her womb world is full of sensory input from you, your body and the outside world. Most of the sensory information in the womb world is soothing, with muffled sounds and a soothing rocking motion when you walk.

    Next, how she feels on the day of her birth

  • Contractions: 7 hours to birth

    When your baby wakes up today, she’ll find that the space around her is shrinking as your uterus contracts. Just as it gets to its tightest, your uterus relaxes, giving her more space.

    Over the past few months as she’s grown, she’ll have felt her space decreasing, giving her less room to move about. Unborn babies’ brains respond to a certain amount of deep pressure so he’ll enjoy a bear hug from your partner as much as you.

    Next, just one hour to go

  • Transition stage: 1 hour to birth

    There’s no stopping your baby now! She’ll be feeling an uncontrollable urge to to get out of there! It’s a tight squeeze in the birth canal, but nature’s a wonderful thing and your baby’s body is designed to come out that way.

    For this, her skull bones haven’t permenantly fused together so her head is much more squeezable than yours! This is also why newborns often don’t look like the babies you see on TV straightaway.

    Next, how the big push feels minutes from birth

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  • Preparing to breath: 7 minutes to birth

    There are now stress hormones buzzing around your baby’s brain, getting her ready for her big entry into the world. Cortisol increases her heart rate in preparation for her first breath. Up until now all the oxygen she’s needed has been supplied from you via the umbilical cord.

    In the next few moments, the change in pressure and temperature will make her lungs open for the first time and she’ll start breathing on my own.

    Next, her first few seconds

  • Meeting mum and dad: 21 seconds to birth

    The first sensation your baby will feel is cold air on her head. One more squeeze (and a big moan from you), and her head emerges. She’ll be completely overwhelmed at first, a few last pushes and her shoulders will work free, big hands will whisk her up and put her on your chest.

    To her, the world is cold, white and noisy and she’ll have trouble focussing in the bright light – quite a change from the warm, protected space of the womb she’s been living in for nine months. To be honest, you’ll be rather overwhelmed as well!

    Next, getting used to being outside the womb

  • First Feed: 10 minutes after birth

    You baby will be taken from your to be weigheded and checked over. She might start to cry at the cold and the unusual hospital smells. She just wants you and her dad. When you swaddle her with a blanket, it will feel more familiar, like the cosy walls of the womb, and the first milk (colostrums) she gets as she suckles will take her back to the familiar smells and tastes of her old world as she adjusts to her big new one!

Last updated on 16 June 2011

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