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Week 12: Reflexes And Vocal Cord Development

For soon-to-be parents, the joy and thrill of following their baby’s growth during pregnancy are beyond compare. At week 12, the baby reaches a crucial milestone as reflexes develop and the vocal cords form. In this article, we will explore the significant changes that occur during this stage of pregnancy. This will include the beginning of reflexes, the development of vocal cords, and the differentiation of external genitals.

At this stage, your little one’s tiny body is growing, and fascinating milestones are being set. Week 12 is a special time when reflexes begin to appear – your baby’s fingers and toes react to touch. The magical world of vocal cord development begins, laying the foundation for future coos and giggles. Let us dive  into the wonders of Week 12, exploring the fetal reflexes and the magical symphony of vocal cord growth. 

1. Baby’s Reflexes Begin to Develop


At week 12, the baby’s reflexes start to show, showcasing early signs of neurological development.

a. Startle Reflex

One of the very first reflexes is the startle reflex, also called the Moro reflex. When a sudden noise or movement startles the baby, they extend their arms and legs and pull them back as if hugging themselves.

b. Grasping Reflex

The baby displays the grasping reflex when something touches their palms or the soles of their feet. They will instantly curl their fingers or toes around the object.

c. Rooting Reflex

The rooting reflex will help the baby find the breast or bottle during feeding. Touch the baby’s cheek, and it will turn its head in that direction, searching for where the touch came from.

2. Vocal Cord Formation


During week 12, the baby’s vocal cords undergo essential development, making way for communication in the future.

a. Formation of Vocal Folds

At this stage, the vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, develop in the baby’s larynx. These small folds of tissue will be crucial to the baby’s ability to produce sounds and vocalizations after birth.

b. Early Communication Sounds

As the vocal cords grow, the baby might make soft sounds, even though you can’t hear them from outside. These early sounds serve as essential steps in preparing for language development.

c. Link to Emotion Regulation

The development of vocal cords is closely linked to the baby’s emotional growth. While still in the womb, the baby may cry or express discomfort through these early vocalizations.

3. External Genitals Begin to Differentiate


During week 12, the baby’s external genitals differentiate, leading to gender development.

a. Formation of Genital Structures

The genital structures continue to develop during this stage, influenced by genetic factors.

b. Gender Differentiation

By week 12, the external genitalia may show visible differences between male and female fetuses. But figuring out the gender through ultrasound might not always be right during this time in pregnancy.

c. Respect for Privacy

As the baby’s gender becomes clear, expectant parents and doctors must respect the baby’s privacy. Gender reveal, if wanted, should be approached with sensitivity and consideration.

4. Prenatal Health and Care

Maintaining prenatal health and proper care during week 12 is essential for the baby’s continued development.

a. Prenatal Checkups

Regular prenatal checkups with doctors help monitor the baby’s growth and well-being.

b. Proper Nutrition


A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for the baby’s growth and development. Folic acid, iron, and other essential nutrients should be part of the mother’s diet.

c. Managing Discomforts

During this phase, some expectant moms may endure discomforts such as morning sickness or fatigue. Proper rest and self-care are essential for managing these discomforts.

5. Emotional Connection

As the baby’s development progresses, building an emotional connection between expectant parents and the baby becomes important.

a. Bonding Through Touch

Parents can bond with the baby by gently touching the mother’s belly, providing comfort and reassurance.

b. Talking and Singing

woman touching womb

Talking and singing to the baby in the womb can help establish a sense of familiarity with the parents’ voices.

c. Playing music

Lullabies or music that is comforting may help the baby relax and strengthen emotional bonds.

6. Preparing for Parenthood

Week 12 marks an ideal time for expectant parents to prepare for parenthood.

a. Parenting Classes

You might want to think about signing up for parenting classes. They can help you learn important things and practical skills for taking care of and helping the baby grow.

b. Creating a Baby-Friendly Environment


Start preparing the baby’s nursery and creating a safe and welcoming space for the baby’s arrival.

c. Financial Planning




Discuss financial planning and budgeting to prepare for the baby’s arrival and future needs.

Week 12 is an exciting phase of pregnancy, with the beginning of reflexes, vocal cord development, and external genital differentiation. For soon-to-be parents, watching the baby grow and taking care of mom’s health are key for a good journey towards parenthood. The emotional connection between parents and the baby is important to this stage, building a sense of closeness and bonding. By preparing for the baby’s arrival and embracing the wonders of parenthood, both partners can step on this remarkable and transformative journey with love and joy.

This article is approved by Dr. Chitwan Dubey, Consultant Obstetrics, Gynaecologist & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital.

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