How Do Babies Breathe in the Womb?

Babies Breathe in the Womb. Welcome to the wonderful world of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and breathing. You’re about to experience it all first-hand as a mom-to-be.

During pregnancy, oxygen enters the fetus’s blood from the mother’s bloodstream. Oxygen moves from the placenta to the fetus’s lungs, where the baby can take in air and absorb oxygen. When birth arrives, the baby first breathes through its mouth and then its lungs before breathing out of its nose or umbilical cord.
As a growing fetus, your baby breathes in the fluid that makes up amniotic fluid while also absorbing oxygen through it.

The fluid circulates throughout your uterus and is absorbed by other organs of your body like your liver and kidneys. When birth arrives, this fluid is ejected along with the baby’s breath. But how do babies breathe in the womb? Read to find out!

How do babies breathe during and after birth?

Babies in the womb receive oxygen through the umbilical cord, connected to the placenta, which supplies oxygen molecules from the mother. At birth, babies’ lungs are still filled with amniotic fluid and within 10 seconds of delivery, the baby will take their first breath. The fluid then begins to drain from the baby’s lungs and is replaced by oxygen, allowing them to breathe on their own.

During labor, the contractions push amniotic fluid out of the baby’s lungs, preparing them to breathe. As a result, newborns can survive outside of the womb with minimal support for several weeks. Additionally, newborns are able to regulate their breathing on their own so no special equipment or training is necessary after birth.

However, newborns can still benefit from medical care when they are firstborn. Newborns who do not receive proper medical care can develop life-threatening health conditions such as sepsis and hypothermia. In addition, many newborns experience umbilical cord prolapse or umbilical cord entanglement, which can cause complications such as hemorrhage or difficulty breathing due to compression of the cord.

It is essential that newborns receive immediate care after birth and follow all doctor’s orders regarding their medical condition.

How Does a Baby Breathe During Birth?

During labor, the birthing parent’s uterus contracts and retracts, pushing amniotic fluid out of the baby’s lungs and preparing them to breathe. As labor progresses, fetal breathing movements can be detected in the womb as early as 11 weeks, with practice breaths involving muscle contractions to bring amniotic fluid in and out of their lungs.

After birth, babies typically start receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord around 12 weeks of gestational age, but they may not get exposure to oxygen until the cord is cut. This is because newborns can’t control their breathing on their own yet and because safe practices during birth require that newborns receive continuous access to oxygen.

How Does a Baby Breathe in the Womb?

Newborns practice breathing in the womb but do not utilize their lungs before taking their first breath outside the womb. In the womb, babies breathe through the umbilical cord, which is connected to the placenta. The placenta is responsible for delivering oxygen and other nutrients from the mother to the baby. In addition to this, it plays a role in the development of several organs such as the lungs, brain, and liver.

Newborns practice breathing in the womb but do not utilize their lungs before taking their first breath outside the womb due to various factors like premature birth or low birth weight of the baby. This can also be due to maternal diseases like hypertension or diabetes that interfere with the fetus’s growth and development.

The placenta and umbilical cord are vital organs during the development of the fetus and play a major role in ensuring a healthy pregnancy. They help in providing oxygen and nourishment to the fetus while preventing any infection or trauma during pregnancy.

When Does a Baby Breathe in the Womb?

A Baby’s lungs usually develop in the womb around 28 weeks of pregnancy, but fetal breathing movements can be detected as early as 11 weeks.
When a baby’s lungs are developing in the womb, amniotic fluid enters them and makes them inhale and exhale. At this time, the baby practices breathing amniotic fluid in the womb before birth.

The birthing process helps the baby prepare to breathe by pushing amniotic fluid out of the lungs. Oxygen is delivered to the baby through the umbilical cord and placenta in the womb.
Babies practice breathing while still in the womb and they will be used to breathing once they are born. So, babies practice breathing amniotic fluid before birth and it’s vital for their well-being after birth.

Babies’ lungs develop when they are born, so they start breathing on their own as soon as they are born. You may notice that babies practice breathing immediately after birth.
The movements of fetal breathing happen due to respiratory system development and the fetus learns to breathe on its own after birth.

Can a Baby Breathe During a Water Birth?

Healthy newborn babies can breathe upon entering the air after water birth, as their first breath is triggered by the change in environment. When a baby is born into water, his lungs are already filled with fluid, making breathing difficult and requiring oxygenated blood to be pumped from the placenta to the lungs.

Therefore, babies born into water often experience periods of independent breathing before the umbilical cord is cut. Water birth does not affect a baby’s breathing ability and is often recommended for newborns due to the gentle transition from womb to world. While water birth can be calming and enjoyable for new parents, it should not be considered essential for the healthy development of a baby.


Babies can’t breathe on their own in the womb, but all of the processes that allow them to breathe are in place. A baby expels carbon dioxide and inhales oxygen through the umbilical cord during labor, and amniotic fluid helps transport it to the lungs.

As birth approaches, babies can also regulate breathing by tightening or loosening their diaphragms (a dome-shaped muscle between their lungs and abdominal cavity). They may also move their mouths closer to the umbilical cord in an attempt to stimulate contractions. During birth, babies first exhale as they move from the birth canal into the mother’s uterus. In time, they’ll take larger breaths of air as they continue to move through the birth canal and into the outside world.

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