PreNatal Yoga: When is a baby conscious in the womb?

by Suzanne Swan

by Suzanne Swan

The raising of a child begins within the nine months of pregnancy. Your state of mind and your relationship to the world are all transmitted to your child and becomes their foundation for life.  During pregnancy, you and your baby function as one. Bonding after birth is in fact just the continuation of the bonding process that began in the womb.

Let’s have a look from a yogic perspective on how your baby’s consciousness develops over their time in the womb.

4 months (16 weeks): Seat of Consciousness in the Heart

Your baby is a physically well-formed human being.  According to yoga, the spiritual heart becomes active, the seat of consciousness, the source of feelings and emotion. Your baby is floating freely in amniotic fluid, doubles in length and triples in weight. Their taste buds are present at twelve weeks, and functioning by the fifteenth week.

5 months (20 weeks): Presence of Mind

Your baby hears and responds to sounds in their environment.  They awaken from a subconscious state and begin to develop manas (the individual mind which has the power and faculty of attention).  Babies are now affected by the thoughts of the mother.  Sattvic lifestyle and presence of mind is recommended. Perceiving aromas appears as early as the fourth week and is well-developed by twenty weeks.

6 months (24 weeks): Consciousness Awakens

Your baby’s intellect (buddhi) begins to awaken.  Now your baby is fully human and able to experience and differentiate between the pleasure of comfort, and the pain of discomfort.  These are experienced in a dream-like state, rather than in the way it was experienced before the intellect had developed. Your baby is now as responsive to touch as a one-year-old baby.

7 months (28 weeks): Brain Architecture

Your baby responds to touch and sound at 7 months. Communication between you and your baby strengthens. Research has found that the mother's attitude has the single greatest effect on how an infant turns out.  A warm loving environment predisposes the child towards trust, openness, extroversion and self-confidence. Your baby begins to be shaped increasingly by the purely emotional content of your messages.

8 months (32 weeks): Memory begins

As your baby’s brain rapidly grows, they will start to dream. The memory track develops and your baby remembers and retains his/her memories.  As the brain matures, primitive sensations and feelings grow into more complex feeling-thought states and will later become pure ideas.

9 months (36 weeks +): An intimate relationship

Your baby is breathing, sucking a thumb, and turning their head.  You and your unborn child’s relationship is that of two equal human beings, contained in one body.  It is no wonder that spiritual teachers have often called the relationship between mother and child the highest human relationship. Having supportive relationships helps the mother feel safe and this sense of safety makes it more desirable for the baby to come into the world.

Bonding does not need to be will fully developed -- it just needs to be realised as already existing.  It does not need to be "done"  -- it just needs to be lived.  It does not need to be learned-- it just needs to be awakened. (Swami Gurupemananda Saraswati)

Written by Suzanne Swan, 2017, founder of yogababy, Senior Yoga teacher and Childbirth Educator.  www.yogababy.com.au.  Suzanne can be contacted at info@yogababy.com.aiu