Does Your Fetus Have a Personality Already?

Jenny Benjamin
5

pirate babyAs any pregnant mama knows, as soon as you hear your baby's heartbeat for the first time, you already start thinking about who this little bean is going to become. Then, with every flutter or kick or aversion to chicken, you can't help but assign personality traits to your unborn baby -- "She kicks me all the time. She's a feisty one!" or "I can't stand the smell of meat anymore, so Junior's clearly going to be an eco-friendly vegetarian."

And, as it turns out, there's some truth to all of your musings. Many smarter-than-us types who study prenatal psychology (because there is a real science behind it) believe that a fetus starts developing a personality in utero, as they are exposed to their mother's emotions, environmental factors that seep in from the outside, and so on. That's why pregnant women are encouraged to reduce stress as much as possible, to listen to stimulating music, even to eat certain foods that might help a baby develop a "taste" for healthy fare.

I'm totally guilty of giving my unborn babies little personalities already, going so far as to decide which one will get which name based on their in-utero behavior. From what I can tell, Baby A will be my sweet, gentle boy because he doesn't move around as much, but kicks or flutters when I need a little reassurance that he's still doing well down there. I've determined that Baby B will be rowdier and more outgoing because he kicks more frequently, squirms for other people, and even puts on more of a show at his 4-D ultrasounds. I mean, this is the fetus that literally was posing during the anatomy scan, with a full-frontal face shot and a hand on his cheek. Aww, that's totally something I would have done for my close-up too, little man!

Just the other night, I woke up in pretty excruciating pain as Baby B's head pushed up under my rib cage, while a foot or something seemed to be stomping down on some nerve in my groin. "Oh, you little effer!" I thought as I tried to hold the right side of my belly and soothe the baby inside back into submission. After a few minutes, the pain did stop, which just reassured me that he is a good listener and calms down when I need him to, so he's clearly a really sweet, well-mannered baby who made a mistake. And then, on cue, just as I was mentally praising Baby B, Baby A started to squirm over on his side of the belly, ever so gently, as if to say, "But Mama, see, I was good this whole time, and I would never ever ever stomp on your pelvic nerve in the first place!" Oh, how lucky I am -- blessed with two angelic boys!

Yes, I know, this is just a mom-to-be's wishful thinking ... or is it? Do babies ultimately display some of the same personality traits that they did in utero? Or is a lot of their fetal behavior just circumstance? I've put a lot of stock in the fact that Baby A is so much mellower, but as it turns out, he's facing backwards, so most of his kicks I might be feeling internally, rather than on the surface of my belly. Or, could he really be a quieter baby? I'd also determined that my babies liked passionate opera music, big band jazz, and angry heavy metal, only to recently discover that any loud noise will likely make them kick. Sigh, so much for that.

Also, my pregnancy has been a happy one, which I keep attributing to my little guys. Reality is, it's probably just my body, but I'm taking some comfort in the fact that they've been going easy on me. I keep hoping it means that they'll be easy newborns too. They're not keeping me up at night now, so therefore, they won't be keeping me up at night as babies, right? Right?! Then again, I've heard those old wives' tales about how tough pregnancies mean easier babies, so I'm worried that the reverse might be true. (But, then again, is that hard pregnancy = easy baby formula just something people say to make you feel better? You know, like how rain on your wedding day or bird shit on your shoulder are supposed to be good luck?)

Well, I guess that I'll have to wait and see. What I don't want to do is get stuck on them having certain personality traits and thereby create a self-fulfilling prophesy -- as identical twins, they'll have a hard enough time finding their own identities. Still, I'm curious to see if, out of the belly, Baby A is as sweet and docile as he was in the womb, and if Baby B likes to make a scene and stir the air. In the end though, I'm not sure it'll matter anyway.

Do you believe that your baby's personality out of the womb will be similar to what it was in the womb?


Image via istolethetv/Flickr

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