The marvelously complicated development of a baby only half-way through her journey

By Sarah Terzo

By mid-pregnancy the fetus has begun to explore its own body and environment using its hands. It often holds on to the umbilical cord, and when a thumb approaches its mouth, it will turn and begin to make sucking motions with its lips… The fetus is also using its sense of hearing for orientation. Its most familiar sounds are surely the noises of the mother’s digestive system and the swishing from her major blood vessels, but gradually the fetus also begins to perceive the sounds of the mother’s world, such as music and the father’s voice. The eyes of the fetus are sensitive to light, even though the eyelids are still shut tight… We have no way of knowing whether the fetus tastes the slight salinity of the amniotic fluid. Still, we have indirect evidence that the fetus tastes and smells, since a newborn immediately reacts positively or negatively to tastes that are sweet, salty, or bitter…

Lennart Nilsson and Lars Hamberger, A Child is Born, 4th edition. New York: Bantum Dell, 2003. p. 141.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.