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Do Babies Breathe in the Womb?

Baby In Womb

Have you ever wondered how do babies breathe in the womb? Well, the truth is that babies don’t breathe per se but they rely on their mothers breathing to receive the needed oxygen for proper development of their organs.

However, babies undergo a complicated physical transition as they move out of the womb. While they practice breathing in the womb, their lungs are not used until they are being born. Research shows that this switch or transition is one of the most intricate acts of the body.

How Babies breathe in the womb

Babies in the womb get everything they want from their mother through the placenta and umbilical cord. But oxygen is not part of this supply because every breath a pregnant woman takes transports oxygen into their bloodstream. Then the placenta collects oxygen and transport to the umbilical cord and then to the baby.

How do Babies Breathe During Delivery?

When your baby’s body is ready to exit the womb (usually around the 40th week) during labor, the mother’s uterus contract and retract. This process squeezes the baby to the birth canal and pushes the amniotic fluid out of the baby’s lungs. This prepares the baby to take her first breath.

When the water breaks, the baby gets exposed to oxygen for the first time, but because the baby is still linked to her mother through the placenta, it is not essential that she breathe yet. But within a few moments after birth, the baby will inhale sharply and take her first breath on her own. This transports oxygen into the baby’s bloodstream without any help from the mother.

How Do Babies Breathe After Delivery?

The new lungs of a baby are ready to function for life, but the respiratory system is still developing after birth, including the alveoli that enable the exchange of oxygen in the body.

At birth, most babies have between 20 to 50 million alveoli present in their lungs. Before age 8, the baby would have had up to 300 million alveoli, and this works to support the increasing need for oxygen as they grow.

More so, as a baby grows, the rib bones covering vital organs grow harder to make the lungs more secure. This helps to prevent that feeling of “being knocked out by the wind” which is common among babies. The ribs also develop to take an adult shape in the chest.

What to Avoid During Pregnancy

When a baby is prematurely born, her lungs won’t be fully mature, and this can cause respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and pneumonia if proper care is not taken.

Hence, it is important to take measures to avoid premature birth, and paying attention to diet and lifestyle during pregnancy is one good way. More so, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that to avoid premature birth, all pregnant women should avoid:

  • Deli meat
  • Raw meat
  • Uncooked eggs
  • Sushi

These foods could harbor bacteria or harmful chemical substances that shouldn’t pass on to a baby during development.

More so, try to limit your intake of alcoholic beverages and caffeine during pregnancy. And cosmetic and skin products containing chemicals like salicylic acid should be far from you.

Final Remark

Babies get their oxygen supply while in the womb through the umbilical cord linked to their mother. But after birth, they utilize their lungs to get oxygen supply which is transported to all body cells for growth and development.