The womb is an incredible piece of living engineering that provides an ideal environment for the amazing transformation that occurs during the forty weeks of gestation—a time when a baby’s brain is developing faster than at any time later in life, at one point making one hundred thousand new neural connections an hour.
While growing and developing in this protected biosphere, your baby is intimately connected to the outside environment, including all the nutrients entering the womb, and the smells and sounds of the outer world, which have a lasting impact on her neurological, physical, mental, and anatomical development. These external influences provide you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give your baby a strong and healthy foundation on which to grow. In fact, at no other time in your child’s life will you have this degree of control over the way her environment influences her development.
The most direct way you can affect the health of your baby before he is even born is by making smart decisions about what you eat, drink, and absorb (through your lungs and skin), as well as what you introduce into the womb in the way of smells and sounds.
The swift passage of nutrients, protective proteins, and molecular messages through the umbilical cord from mother to baby offers the ideal opportunity to enrich your unborn baby’s room in the womb and to contribute to the health of the planet your baby will inherit. You can do this each day through your own careful intake of organic foods and healthful beverages. Bring on the green!
Umbilical Cord Connection
The umbilical cord is the living link through which a mother feeds her baby and removes its waste. The cord also becomes the conduit of an ongoing exchange, a silent conversation, in which hormones from the mother and the baby signal changes in each other’s bodies.
The umbilical cord consists of three blood vessels—two umbilical arteries and one umbilical vein—embedded in slippery connective tissue called Wharton’s jelly. The arteries spiral around the vein, giving the cord the toughness of a cable. At one end of the cord is the baby; at the other is the placenta.
The baby’s heart pumps depleted blood out of its body through the umbilical arteries to the placenta, where the arteries divide into a network of tiny capillaries. The mother’s blood in the placenta forms a free-flowing, living five-ounce lake about the size of a glass of red wine. This blood is refreshed completely three or four times each minute to supply the baby’s needs. The replenished blood returns through the umbilical cord like a steady, unhindered river bringing the stuff of life to the fetus.
By the fourth month of pregnancy, seventy-five quarts of blood flow through this river every day, delivering oxygen-rich vital nutrients and removing waste. A typical blood cell will make a complete round trip every thirty seconds. By the time the baby is born, up to three hundred quarts of blood a day will flow through the umbilical cord.1
Three hundred quarts!
And you, the expectant mom, don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to make that happen as you prepare for the arrival of your little one. The human reproductive system is truly a remarkable thing.
However, this constant flow of blood that stimulates the baby to grow and develop also offers access to elements of our world that can harm a baby in the womb. Just as the umbilical cord can deliver high-quality nourishment and the fortifying hydration of healthy liquids, it also can transport unhealthy air, food, water, and fumes if those elements are coursing through the mother’s body or in her environment.
That’s why the decisions you make during your pregnancy about what to eat, drink, inhale, and put on your skin or hair can help ensure that this primal lake bathes your baby with enriching, beneficial nutrients.