22 Fascinating Pregnancy, Birth & Newborn Facts

Happy pregnant woman with young child.jpg

The journey from pregnancy to giving birth to holding a newborn in your arms can come with many surprises. Whether you have difficulty concentrating during pregnancy, your water doesn’t break prior to labor, or you find yourself with a very hungry newborn after their birth, the path to parenthood has many twists and turns. 

Surprising Pregnancy Facts

Your Favorite Foods May be Your Baby’s Favorite

Are carrots your favorite vegetable? It’s possible that it will be your baby’s, too. The flavors from the food a pregnant mother eats is transmitted into the amniotic fluid and swallowed by the baby. Research done by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that exposure to different flavors while in the womb had an effect on a baby’s flavor preferences when beginning to eat solid foods.

Sense of Smell Strengthens

Women who are pregnant may have a heightened sense of smell. Why? The hormones that cause a woman to have morning sickness, nausea or vomiting also play a role in a woman’s sense of smell.

Sweat Increases

A pregnant woman may find herself a little sweatier than usual. This increase in perspiration is because the woman’s body works overtime to cool itself off. During pregnancy, blood volume increase between 40-50 percent as does metabolism, in turn making the body sweat more.

Nesting Instincts Kick In

Many pregnant women experience the “nesting instinct”. This feeling is the intense need to organize, clean and decorate the house in anticipation of the arrival of a baby. However, not all women experience the nesting instinct.

Concentration Can Become Difficult

In the first trimester, morning sickness and fatigue can make a pregnant woman feel worn out and a little hazy. However, both well-rested and tired pregnant women may have periods of forgetfulness. This is mostly caused by preoccupation with the baby, as well as the change in hormones.

The “Pregnancy Glow” is Real

A pregnant woman’s hormones, combined with the natural stretching of skin, causes the “pregnancy glow”. As mentioned before, there is an increase in blood volume during pregnancy. The extra blood is sent to the uterus and organs; in particular, the kidneys. More blood is brought to the blood vessels and there is an increase in oil gland secretion, therefore, “pregnancy glow” occurs.

Shoes Might Not Fit

Throughout pregnancy, the body has a lot of extra fluid which often results in swelling throughout the body. Swelling of the feet and ankles may eventually require a pregnant woman to wear a larger shoe size. However, swelling usually goes away after delivery.

Quick Movements Should Be Avoided

A pregnant woman’s body must prepare itself for birth. It does so with the production of a hormone called relaxin. This hormone relaxes the ligaments, but can make a woman more prone to injury. How? Relaxin loosens the ligaments in a woman’s body, making her less stable.

Shocking Birth Facts

Water Won’t Always Break

Only 1 in 10 mothers experience their water breaking before the onset of labor. In fact, some women will never experience their water breaking. A doctor may have to break the amniotic sac if the cervix has already dilated.

A Few Meals May Have to Be Skipped

Often, once labor begins, women are no longer allowed to eat. They can have clear liquid or ice chips, but that’s it until after the birth. The reason for this is because of the possibility of a C-section. If a woman has food in her stomach and she is under anesthesia, food could get into the airways.

Contractions Could Be the Worst Part

The pain caused by contractions grows as labor continues. For women who opt for an epidural, contractions may end up being the most painful part of labor. Contractions can cause pain in the abdomen, back and groin. The pain from contractions feels different for every woman. For some, the pain may be similar to menstrual cramps while for others, the pain can be severe.

The Body Reacts to Labor in Different Ways

Many women experience nausea and vomiting during the birthing process. Others may experience diarrhea or flatulence before or during labor. While pushing, a woman may lose control of her bladder or bowels.

It’s Not Over After the Baby is Born

The birthing process isn’t quite over once the baby is born. A woman must still deliver the placenta if she gave birth vaginally. After a woman gives birth to her baby, she will continue to have mild contractions. The woman’s health care provider may rub her stomach to encourage the uterus to expel the placenta, or the woman may have to push a few more times after giving birth.

Prepare for Bleeding Post-Delivery

After childbirth, bleeding can occur for 4 to 6 weeks and possibly even longer. Many women are surprised by the amount of blood post-delivery. Women may need to wear a hospital-grade maxi pad for the first few days following birth before switching to a regular pad.

Stitches May Be Necessary

A vaginal birth can cause various degrees of tearing, which often results in stitches. If a woman has an episiotomy to help the baby during birth, she will require stitches to help her healing process. In most cases, stitches eventually dissolve after a week or two.

Astounding Newborn Facts

Newborns Have More Bones

A baby comes into the world with more bones than an adult. However, over time, these extra bones eventually fuse together. A newborn is born with around 300 bones, but by the time the baby has grown into adulthood, he or she will have only 206 bones.

Newborns Do Not Cry Tears

A newborn can holler and scream, but he or she cannot actually cry tears right away. Tears do not show up until about 3 weeks of age because their tear ducts only produce enough tears to lubricate the eyes. As his or her glands develop, the baby will produce more and more tears.

Newborns Eat a Lot

Moms who breastfeed tend to find their newborns eat more, typically every two to three hours, than a baby that is formula fed. Why? Breastmilk is easier for a newborn to digest than formula.

Separation Anxiety Doesn’t Happen Right Away

A baby doesn’t experience separation anxiety until around 8 to 12 months of age. Separation anxiety begins once the baby can grasp the concept of permanence and that there is only one of you. Because the baby doesn’t understand when you’re going to return, the he or she may experience anxiety.

Smiles are for Different Reasons

A baby’s smile can be primarily attributed to gas or reflexes for up to 6 weeks. A parent will be able to recognize the difference between a reflexive and a responsive smile in their baby. Reflexive smiles are random and short in duration whereas a responsive smile is bigger and lasts longer.

Dry Skin is Normal

A baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid for 9 months while in the womb. Once he or she is born and meets the air, their skin dries out. More often than not, the patches of dry skin will disappear on their own.

Newborns Sleep a Lot, But Not for Long

A newborn sleeps a lot, but since they need to feed every 2 to 3 hours, they do not sleep for very long. At this age, the need for food is much greater than the need for sleep. This means the baby should be woken up to feed until he or she shows healthy weight gain.

Take Care of Your Family with UnityPoint Health

From nesting instincts to painful contractions to a gassy baby, the journey from pregnancy to birth leads to a beautiful bond between a mother and her baby. No matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, the dedicated and professional staff at UnityPoint Clinic are excited to be with you on this journey. Talk to your doctor today about what to expect during birth and pregnancy by messaging them through MyUnityPoint or by calling to make an appointment. Need a doctor? Find one today at a convenient UnityPoint Health location near you!