Pregnancy and parenthood is a fascinating time and made all the more fascinating by the changes that occur. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting, lesser-known facts about pregnancy and babies.
Newborns Have Soft Bones
Bone development begins in the first trimester, but by birth, their "bones," are actually made of cartilage. It isn't until later (late teens or early twenties) that bones have completely ossified. The ossification process is ongoing throughout childhood to allow for growth. Once a person has reached skeletal maturity, their bones will no longer grow in length but can continue to grow in thickness.
These soft bones, or cartilage, are beneficial for both the mother as well as the baby. During pregnancy, the bones allow the baby to curl up nice and small in the womb. When the mother is giving birth, the cartilage is a little more malleable than bone and can make it easier on the mom’s body when the baby goes through the birth canal.
In addition to having cartilage for bones, babies also have more "bones," than adults do. As they grow, some of those bones will fuse together resulting in fewer bones as an adult.
Fetuses Can Leave Their Mark
Most of us know that baby’s get their nutrition through their mom with the placenta and umbilical cord, but did you know that the umbilical cord is actually a two-way street? That’s right. Fetuses can transfer cells to their mother that then circulate through her body and, like stem cells, can transform into the same cells as the neighboring cells and sometimes even heal damaged tissue.
After the pregnancy, some of the cells that have not changed will be flushed out by the mothers immune system, but the ones that have become integrated into the mothers body can remain there for decades to come, so you always keep a little piece of your babies with you, even if you have experienced a loss.
You may have heard the term “pregnancy brain,” as a joke, but you might be surprised to learn that it is a very real change that occurs in pregnancy and the effects may last for up to two years after pregnancy has ended.
During pregnancy, partial shrinkage of gray matter in the brain can occur causing memory problems. More research is needed to learn why this happens, but some suggest that it could be nature’s way of modifying your brain to better recognize social cues in order to understand your baby’s needs better.
After birth, the primary parent’s amygdala becomes more active in response to their baby. This change can help the primary parent to be hyper-vigilant in keeping your baby safe and be tuned-in to their emotional well-being.
Another way our brains change after having a baby is with the release of oxytocin, the love hormone. Oxytocin is released during labor, while breastfeeding and doing skin-to-skin, even just thinking about your children can cause a rush of oxytocin. This hormone helps parent's bond with their children and create a deep love for them.
Custom Made Breast Milk
If you breastfeed your baby, your breast milk is constantly changing based on a variety of factors like:
How old your baby is- breast milk changes from colostrum to transitional milk, then to mature milk.
The time of day- in the mornings, your milk will have higher levels of cortisol to encourage alertness. In the evenings, breast milk will have more melatonin to induce sleep.
If your baby is sick- baby's can "backwash," their saliva while nursing. If your baby is sick, this backwash triggers a response in the mother's body to deliver immune cells directly to the breast milk to help the baby fight off infection.
How long it's been since the last feeding- if it's been a while since your baby last nursed, or you last pumped, your milk's fat content will become more diluted due to the milk volume.
Foremilk and hindmilk- foremilk is high in lactose and helps to hydrate your baby. As your baby nurses, foremilk will be replaced by a fattier milk called hindmilk that gives nutrients to the baby.
If you want to learn more about how amazing parenthood is, contact our midwives today! Don’t forget to check out our new location in Layton for the Grand Opening this Friday!
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
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