How Babies “Digest” In The Womb? What Should ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ Women Eat?

Have you ever wondered if your diet choices during ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ will affect your baby’s food preferences? The answer is YES! The foods you eat while ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ could shape your baby’s future eating habits. Research conducted in this area shows a clear connection to a ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ mums diet and the odour that the baby is born with and also their food preferences as solid foods are introduced. During ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ your baby receives all the necessary nutrition, oxygen, and ʟɪꜰᴇ sᴜᴘᴘᴏʀᴛ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇɴᴛᴀ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ ᴠᴇssᴇʟs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ. Waste products and carbon dioxide from baby are sent back through the ᴜᴍʙɪʟɪᴄᴀʟ ᴄᴏʀᴅ ᴀɴᴅ ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇɴᴛᴀ to mums circulation to be eliminated.

Babies start absorbing nutrients from their mothers about three to five days after ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇᴘᴛɪᴏɴ. That’s when the ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴢᴇᴅ ᴇɢɢ meets its energy needs with nutrients secreted from Mom’s ᴇɴᴅᴏᴍᴇᴛʀɪᴜᴍ (ᴛʜᴇ ᴛɪssᴜᴇ ʟɪɴɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴜᴛᴇʀᴜs). Soon after implantation, which usually happens about eight to nine days after ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇᴘᴛɪᴏɴ, ᴛʜᴇ ᴇᴍʙʀʏᴏ ꜰᴏʀᴍs ᴀ ʏᴏʟᴋ sᴀᴄ. The yolk sac provides critical nutrition and gas exchange between mom and baby throughout most of the first ᴛʀɪᴍᴇsᴛᴇʀ, until the ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇɴᴛᴀ starts to take over at around week 10 of ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ.

That means that from the beginning, your baby is getting all his nutrition from you. His own digestive system won’t take over until he’s born and starts consuming (and pooping) breast milk or formula. In other words, what you eat throughout your ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ matters. So be sure to take your prenatal vitamin daily and maintain a well-rounded ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ diet.

A baby’s sense of taste begins to form at 8 weeks’ gestation, when a cluster of receptors begin to form where their tongue will be and nerve cells are beginning to connect to the brain from different areas of the body. These receptors in the mouth eventually become tastebuds and when the neurological connections are made begin to recognise taste sensations like sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

Amniotic fluid can be “flavoured” because by the second ᴛʀɪᴍᴇsᴛᴇʀ of ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ, a ꜰᴏᴇᴛᴜs is able to swallow amniotic fluid (a near-term ꜰᴏᴇᴛᴜs can swallow up to 1000 ml of amniotic fluid per day, which is about 50% of the entire volume of fluid in the sac!) This swallowing helps to regulate the amount of fluid in the amniotic sac and can assist with the development of the baby’s digestive and respiratory systems, as well as giving the fluid a distinct flavour and odour, depending on mums diet. Around week 16 is when the taste pores are developed and as the fluid flows across the tongue on the way to the baby’s digestive system, molecules in the fluid will interact with the taste buds, and your baby will experience the sensation of taste.

Research shows that when the baby swallows this fluid, the olfactory (smell) receptors in the nose are also exposed to these odorous molecules. Your baby is then familiar with these “smells” and so will have a preference for foods with these flavours once they are born! So you really are eating for 2!

Do babies poop in the womb? Babies pee a lot in the womb, but they usually don’t poop until after birth. During ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ, a sticky greenish-black substance known as meconium starts to build up in your baby’s intestine. This is baby’s first poop. Instead of food, it’s made up of the stuff your baby collected in his intestines while in utero (like old gastrointestinal cells and skin cells), which is why it looks drastically different from the baby poop yet to come.

You’ll usually see meconium in your baby’s first diapers, but occasionally it comes out while a baby is still in utero. If that happens, there’s a ʀɪsᴋ that he could breathe in some amniotic fluid stained with meconium — which could ɪʀʀɪᴛᴀᴛᴇ ʜɪs ʟᴜɴɢs ᴏʀ ʟᴇᴀᴅ ᴛᴏ sᴇʀɪᴏᴜs ɪʟʟɴᴇss. So let your ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀ ᴏʀ ᴍɪᴅᴡɪꜰᴇ know right away if you’re ʟᴇᴀᴋɪɴɢ ɢʀᴇᴇɴ ᴏʀ ʙʀᴏᴡɴɪsʜ ᴀᴍɴɪᴏᴛɪᴄ ꜰʟᴜɪᴅ. Your ᴘʀᴀᴄᴛɪᴛɪᴏɴᴇʀ ᴍᴀʏ ᴅᴇᴄɪᴅᴇ ᴛᴏ sᴘᴇᴇᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴅᴇʟɪᴠᴇʀʏ and evaluate your baby as soon as he arrives.

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