When you are trying for a baby, hearing the wonderful news can bring in a lot of happiness and joy. Of course, it also comes with a long list of what you can and can’t do for the next nine months. While the food you consume directly affects the development of your baby, there are several other external factors that can determine his/her well being. And, sound can also be one of those factors. Soft music can have an incredibly calming and soothing effect on both you as well as your baby. On the other hand, loud music may have quite an opposite impact on the baby within your womb. It might even harm your little one too. Here are a few of the ways that the loud noise can affect your unborn baby:
1. Can Affect Your Tiny Angel’s Hearing
For adults, any noise above 85 decibels (dBA) is considered to be really loud and harmful to ears. Though humans can hear up to 140 dBA, it is said to be so hazardous that it can permanently damage the ears. The outer, middle, and inner part of a baby’s ear can fully develop by the 20th week of gestation. And, by the 24th week of pregnancy, your little one can listen to everything you hear.
The sound travels to the womb through your body. The traveled sound can result in a change in your body, thus, affecting your growing baby. Hence, avoid frequent exposure to noise above 115 dBA as it may have a negative impact on your baby’s hearing ability too (1). Loud concerts, factories with heavy machinery, and workshops are a few places where one might get exposed to such noises.
2. Loud Noise Might Startle Your Baby
Any unexpected loud noise, which might require you to use an earplug too, can startle your baby. If the noise is so loud that you need some hearing protection, it comes as no surprise that it startles your little one. This might be relatable for mothers who live close to an airport or hear siren sounds many times in one day (2). You might be able to notice this with an increased fetal movement soon after the exposure to such noise.
3. Might Induce Stress
A research was done on rhesus monkeys with an aim to understand the relation between loud noise and the fetus. The study showed that consistent exposure to loud noise resulted in an exponential increase in corticotropin and cortisol levels in the fetus (3). The aforementioned hormones are produced in the body during stress. On the other hand, it was observed that the fetuses of unexposed monkeys did not show any presence of such hormones. Abnormal social behavior was also reported in a few cases.
When the study was conducted on humans, no effect was observed in the blood composition and hormonal levels. But, a considerable reduction in maternal lactogen level was observed.
4. Risk Of Premature Birth
Several studies have been conducted to show the effect of loud noise exposure on a woman’s gestation period. While it was observed in some cases that the gestation period came down to 37 weeks as compared to the usual 40 weeks, many of the results were also inconclusive. More research is being done to get more definitive results (4).
Frequent exposure to loud noise during pregnancy might cause stress and hypertension to mothers, which might affect the fetus eventually. Low birth weight can also be one of the negative impacts of loud noise exposure.
While there are thorough studies still being done to have a comprehensive understanding of the association between loud noise and the unborn baby, don’t stress so much. Just try and dial down the volume of your stereo for the next nine months. Good luck to all you soon-to-be mommies out there!
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