How Protected Is a Baby in the Womb?

In the womb, your baby is protected from internal and external pressures by a wealth of natural shields. A baby is safe in the womb because it is well-insulated and designed as the perfect baby carrier, with the umbilical cord, the uterus, placenta and various bones and muscles working together to protect your baby. However, you should avoid high-impact sports like horse riding and skiing, and do not drink alcohol or smoke.

A pregnant woman standing in her home. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Function

The womb, also known as the uterus, is an exceptionally strong muscle found only in women and designed for providing your baby with a safe, protected environment in which to grow. It is pear-shaped and lies between the rectum and the bladder. According to Pregnancy.org, the womb has thick, muscular walls that expand as the baby grows. It receives nutrients from blood vessels and passes them onto the baby. When the baby is ready to come out, the womb contracts and pushes the baby.

Features

Mother and child are linked by the placenta, which provides the baby with food and oxygen and protects your baby against bacteria and infection. The baby is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord, which protects the baby’s blood vessels. A mucous plug seals the womb and stops infections. The amniotic sac protects the baby from germs, and the amniotic fluid keeps your baby cool and protected from pressure outside the womb. Abdominal muscles offer extra support and insulation, and the pubic bone and spinal column provide the baby with a harder protection on either side.

Things to Avoid

With all these organs, bones, muscles and tissues working together to keep your baby safe, you can lead a relatively normal life when pregnant, but there are some important things to avoid. The placenta can become infected by alcohol and tobacco, and your baby will lose vital protection, food and oxygen. According to MayoClinic.com, you should avoid fish high in mercury, like swordfish, shark and king mackerel, because they could damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Caffeine can cause stillbirth, and deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products and unwashed fruits and vegetables can cause food-borne illnesses which harm the baby. According to BabyCenter, you should avoid amusement park rides, horse riding, cycling, gymnastics, skiing, scuba diving and tennis when pregnant, as your body’s natural defenses may not protect your baby from the rigors of these activities.

Loss of Pregnancy

Sometimes natural defenses fail to protect a woman’s baby. The types of loss include miscarriage, preterm delivery and various unavoidable abortions, explains the U.S. National Institute of Health. Avoiding drugs, alcohol and caffeine, as well as x-rays, greatly reduces your chances of suffering a miscarriage. In addition, sometimes women suffer a physical blow that applies so much pressure to the womb that the muscular wall is not enough to protect it, so be careful.

Considerations

One issue that could upset the protection of your baby in the womb is placenta previa. It is an unpreventable but treatable condition that develops when the placenta lies low in the uterus. Total previa occurs when placenta covers your entire cervix and partial previa covers a part of the cervix. It occurs in 1 in every 200 pregnancies during the second or third trimester and does not typically cause problems. However, if bleeding occurs, it may lead to hemorrhage, death, shock or your baby having to be born early. It is almost always detected before problems arise, but call your doctor immediately if you bleed from the vagina during pregnancy.

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