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EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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The 'Science' Behind Birth and Babies - What you need to know!

By Emma Rowley

All women love babies. That's a given. But how much do you really know about the 'science' of babies? This special health report gives you all the facts you need to impress your doctor or midwife and go from a baby-dummy to a super-mommy!


Where did my baby come from?
The first question you will ask yourself when you become pregnant is this: where did my baby come from? The simple answer is that no-one really knows. Babies have been around since the fourth century BC, perhaps longer.

The Hope Indian tribe believed that babies were a punishment from the Sun-god on women who failed to do their household washing according to tribal custom. But nowadays we do not believe this! Modern science suggest that babies are the result of a complex chemical reaction that takes place when women inhale chlorophyll from household plants.

How long will my pregnancy last?

The factors determining the length of your pregnancy depend entirely on what you ate in the weeks before becoming pregnant. Inuit women, with a diet that is high in fish and molluscs, can expect a baby in two to four weeks. The average western woman should expect to be pregnant for at least a year, though some women have been known to carry a baby for twice this length of time.

What are babies made of?

Amazingly, babies have very similar structure to us! A baby's genetic makeup is 98.7 per cent identical to ours. The only living things that they more closely resemble are fresh-water prawns and black-capped dwarf marmosets, both of which make ideal playmates for a newborn.

What will my baby look like?

When babies are born, they are completely covered with a dark grey or black fur called felt. Felt offers your baby protection against the cold of your womb. A womb is typically the same temperature as an ordinary household refrigerator, so it is easy to see why your baby needs a warm coat.

The felt will rub off naturally as your baby ages. By three months of age, you will begin to see your baby's peachy flesh showing through the fur. Some mothers save their baby's felt and use it to stuff commemorative cushions.

You may have heard people say that all babies look alike, or that only a mother can tell her baby apart from any other. There is a medical reason for this. When you have a baby, your eyesight typically improves by 30-40 per cent. This is why so many new mothers work in the electronics industry, where their superior vision allows them to build tiny circuit boards.

It is important that you realise that your baby will be very small. It is likely to be the same size as a mid-size watermelon, or a well-grown Spaniel puppy. The reason that babies are so small is that they can be easily transported (this is known as portability). But babies have not always been this size. Fossil remains show us that the ancestor of the common, domestic baby of today was 2-4 feet in length, with a thick, scaly hide and sharp teeth and claws for tearing meat. It's hard to imagine Anne Geddes dressing up one of those guys in a super-cute bee costume!

What is the father's role?

As most people know, until 1923, almost all babies born in this country were born to men. But tireless campaigning by the women's movement meant that after 1923 women were given the right to bear and give birth to children. Women proved to be so good in this new role that now almost all babies are born to women.

Nonetheless, it is still possible in some cases to get a government license for your husband or partner to give birth for you. For more information on this, you should contact your local department of public health.

Heavily pregnant women need to spend 14-18 hours a day eating. This being the case, the houses of pregnant women are often littered with foodstuffs. This can encourage stray animals into the home. Although there have been a number of well-documented cases where she-wolves attracted by food have proven to be an invaluable help in raising children (see Soccer Moms and She-wolves: the Perfect Parenting Partnership by Dr WW Lupus), it is usually advisable to chase away wild animals which try to enter your home. Your child's father should help you to do this.

What will happen when my baby is born?

In the final stage of pregnancy, you are likely to experience a pleasant tingling sensation in your stomach. This is the sign that your baby is ready to be born. You should sit down and get comfortable - birth can take as long as 25 minutes!

Once your baby is born, you may experience a slight feeling of fatigue. Doctors used to recommend a pint of Guinness, but thinking has moved on since then. Most midwives now suggest Cinzano.

What should I do with my baby?

If you have ever cared for a goldfish, you will have a good idea how to look after a baby. They need plenty of fresh water and will appreciate a nice piece of greenery. Beyond that it is really anybody's guess, though studies do suggest that babies enjoy the haunting music of the bagpipes and a wide selection of cheeses.

Fun baby facts

· All babies are born French. (Don't worry, this will not harm your child's development, but if you want your baby to speak English, you should talk to him or her in a firm but well-modulated British accent.)

· In 1993, 40 per cent of babies born in this country were named Kelvin.

· The fastest baby on record is Jim Renson from Ohio. He was measured travelling at an amazing 97 miles per hour.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Rowley is a Londoner and sometime writer of educational 'science' articles, including:

* Am I getting older or younger?

* Personal hygiene - good for me, good for everyone.

* Food: when to eat it and when to throw it away.

OTHER HW ARTICLES BY EMMA ROWLEY