Ep. 13: Do Babies Cry in the Womb? (20 and 24 Weeks Pregnant)

October 1, 2018

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In the special segment “What I Googled This Week,” Laura and Shanna divulge the embarrassing pregnancy issues they asked the internet about, including questions about indigestion during pregnancy and whether babies cry in the womb. Also Shanna talks about adjusting to her new body and pregnant belly, and Laura reports on her 20-week anatomy scan. The moms-to-be also reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Laura is 20 weeks pregnant, and Shanna is 24 weeks pregnant.

Topics discussed in this episode:

-Week 20 of pregnancy

-Week 24 of pregnancy

-Size of your baby bump

-Maternity clothes

-20 week anatomy scan

-Pregnancy ultrasound

-Indigestion, acid reflux, burping during pregnancy

-Do babies cry in the womb?

-Bending over while pregnant

-Mothers as makers of death article

This episode’s full show notes can be found here.

Want to get in touch with Shanna and Laura? Send us an email and follow us on social! Instagram, Facebook or TikTok at @bfppodcast

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Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

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Episode Transcript

Shanna Micko: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. I’m Shanna.

Laura Birek: I’m Laura.

Shanna Micko: We’re friends and writing partners and we discovered we’re pregnant at the same time, so we started a podcast about it.

Laura Birek: This week we’ve got our weekly check-ins and then we check Google to find out what’s going on with the acoustics in Shanna’s uterus and then we close with our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.


Laura Birek: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the show.

Shanna Micko: Hello.

Laura Birek: We are in episode 13 and we are going to start the show like we start every show with our weekly check-ins. Shanna, what week of pregnancy are you at and what’s going on in your life this week?

Shanna Micko: I’m week 24. It’s crazy this is just flying by. What’s going on this week is I feel huge. My stomach just feels so big and I can’t believe I have three more months to grow. 

I was going to say to go, but I guess also to grow.

Laura Birek: You’re growing and going.

Shanna Micko: The reason it struck me is that I went shopping the other day at Marshalls for some maternity dresses or whatever, because it’s been hot and I don’t want to wear pants. I saw myself in a full length mirror for the first time in a while, because the one we have at home broke and so I don’t really like look at myself in a full length mirror and I was just like, oh belly. Oh my God. I just did not know how big it had gotten. I was kind of awestruck in the dressing room, taking in my new form and none of the dresses really worked. I was just trying to find stuff off the rack and a bigger size and pull it off and it’s not working.

Laura Birek: Because I was going to ask if Marshalls doesn’t really have a maternity section.

Shanna Micko: No.

Laura Birek: You’re just looking for loose cottony dresses.

Shanna Micko: Yeah, which basically looked like potato sacks on me at this point. It’s just so unflattering, so it was not a success.

Laura Birek: I’ve discovered that recently, because I have a lot of very loose flowy cotton dresses and they fit still, but you just look like you’re completely shapeless and I’m like, this is why you want some ruching around the belly because ruching and elastics are very, very helpful.

Shanna Micko: I need to find some ruching. Don’t go to Marshalls for ruching, people. They don’t have it.

Laura Birek: Ruching is not in this season. Actually, it might be. I could be totally wrong, because I don’t know anything about fashion.

Shanna Micko: Who knows? I think it’s always in for pregnant ladies, the staple.

Laura Birek: Indeed.

Shanna Micko: That’s pretty much all that’s going on with me. What about you?

Laura Birek: I’m in week 20, which is a big deal. It’s halfway and that also means I got to have my anatomy scan.

Shanna Micko: Cool. How did it go?

Laura Birek: I went in to see the perinatologist and maybe I shouldn’t use his name, even though he’s lovely and I’m only going to say nice things about his name if that changes in the future. I was going to see the perinatologist and I actually feel pretty lucky because I’ve never had a tech do an ultrasound. 

I’ve always had my doctor or the perinatologist do it, which I’m gathering is unusual. Do you always have your doctor do it?

Shanna Micko: Well, in the very, very beginning. But for the big one, the NT scan, and the 20-week anatomy scan, those were all technicians and then the doctor comes in afterwards.

Laura Birek: I had no idea how spoiled I was because I’ve never had an ultrasound tech. It’s always been my doctor or the perinatologist and then I started reading on the baby boards people being upset because they were going to get their 20-week scans or anatomy scans or their NT scans and then the tech would kind of say something vague and then they’d have to wait 48 hours to hear back from the doctor and stuff like that. I haven’t had any of those problems. It’s so nice to go in and have the doctor just do it, but it’s also very fast. So when I had my NT scan, I mentioned that my mom’s a geneticist and the perinatologist sort of offhand was like, “She should come down for your anatomy scan.” I mentioned that, he was like, “She might find it interesting.” I was like, “All right.” I mentioned that to my mom and she jumped on it. My mom actually came down for a couple days and it was really nice to see her. She actually took me maternity clothes shopping, which was sweet and we got to do some mom daughter time. She hasn’t seen me since I was pregnant, so she was real excited to see me. Then we went to the anatomy scan and it’s funny, because she was like, “Don’t ask me about what’s going to happen or don’t talk to me about the outcomes beforehand,” because she was clearly a little nervous and the reason why is she’s like, “I live in the world of abnormal. The only people who come see me are the ones who get the bad scans. I never see a normal anatomy scan.”

Shanna Micko: Oh, God.

Laura Birek: So she’s like, “I am not someone to be relying on for reassurance, because in her world, these all go wrong.”

Shanna Micko: Would she know what she’s looking at? I know she’s a doctor and everything, but I look at these things and I have no clue what these bits and pieces are that they’re measuring. It’s all Greek to me. Would she even be able to translate those pictures and stuff?

Laura Birek: I think not as well as the perinatologist, but she was pretty good at it. So we went into the scan and the doctor came in and started doing it and the thing about having a doctor do it is it is fast. Everyone was warning me it’s going to take forever to have your anatomy scan. I think our friend, Steven Carey, it took like an hour or more of being under the wand. For me, it was very all business, but pretty cool and my mom seemed to understand what was going on. I actually could tell. When he was there pointing it out, it was pretty cool. He was like, “All right. Here’s the spine. Spine’s all there. Spine’s good. Head to tail looking great. There’s the brain. Brain looks good. Brain doesn’t have too much fluid. That’s what we want to see. There’s the femur. Femur is good.”

Shanna Micko: That’s nice you got a narration.

Laura Birek: I got a total walk through and I don’t know if he does that for all his patients or if he was doing it special for my mom, but it was actually really fun. 

It was fun because as you can probably tell, everything was perfectly fine.

Shanna Micko: That’s good.

Laura Birek: That was a real relief. I actually didn’t realize how much I was sort of secretly worried that something was going to go wrong. I wasn’t full of anxiety. Basically, up until that point, I was kind of telling people I was pregnant. Not that I was going to have a baby, because in my mind I still thought, I still might not have a baby. If it goes horribly wrong in the anatomy’s scan and baby has no brain, something is terribly wrong, I’m not having a baby. I had a pregnancy, which I didn’t realize I was being quite that pessimistic until afterwards and I was very relieved.

Shanna Micko: That’s good. I wonder how much of that comes from you being the daughter of someone who only sees the bad, because I’m nervous too. But I don’t know.

Laura Birek: I think 100% has to do with that because my whole life I’ve been seeing the worst case scenarios. So I’m certain that that is a huge contributing factor, but it was cool and we saw everything. We didn’t get any cute 3D ultrasounds. I don’t think they offer 3D ultrasounds unless there’s a medical necessity, which is fine, because I don’t know if I needed that crispy lasagna. Throwback to the previous episode. He didn’t try very hard to get cute little profiles. What I did come away with, which was the most clearly this is a picture of the baby, it is like the most terrifying sonogram I’ve ever seen. The baby looks like a weird alien skeleton. It’s scary.

Shanna Micko: Because I have seen it, I don’t know if it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not the best angle.

Laura Birek: It’s not a great angle. He hasn’t found his angles yet. We’re going to work on that. He’s going to watch some top model and we’ll work on his angles, but I’ll post it on our Instagram so listeners can make up their own mind. But to me, it looks like a terrifying skeletal baby. That was my week. This is the other great part. As you know and our listeners know, I have an anterior placenta like you.

Shanna Micko: That’s right.

Laura Birek: It was also kind of low and so there was some concern that it was going to be either partially blocking or fully blocking cervix, which is placenta previa, which ends up being a whole series of complications and makes birth way more difficult and risky. I was asking about it and the perinatologist measured and it was low still, but just far enough away that he’s like, I don’t need you again. It’s going to migrate even further away. But when he was measuring the distance between my placenta and my cervix, he was like, “Man, has anyone ever told you, you have a perfect cervix?”

Shanna Micko: Whoa!

Laura Birek: It sounds like I’m making it sound a little more risky that it is. He was just like, “You got a perfect cervix there,” and I was like, “Wow.”

Shanna Micko: I have so many questions. A) What makes a perfect cervix? B) Why would anyone have told you that before? Who would’ve told that?

Laura Birek: That is a really good question, Shanna, number two. Number one, from what I can tell, it was long enough. It was nice and thick and it was like totally closed. That’s the best I can figure out. That’s what makes up a perfect cervix. I feel like a perfect cervix is like our best band name.

Shanna Micko: Definitely. Spin off the perfect circle. 20 years later.

Laura Birek: All right. Well, that’s the end of my week.

Shanna Micko: Cool.


Shanna Micko: Our next segment is what I Googled this week, where we divulge what we have been searching the internet for related to our pregnancies. Laura, what did you Google?

Laura Birek: I Googled, “Pregnant. Can’t burp lying down.”

Shanna Micko: What? Tell me this must be a thing. Other people must have this problem.

Laura Birek: I haven’t been able to find an answer to how many people. There are definitely other people. Thankfully, I found other people having the same problem. I think Googling that is difficult too, because no one understands the proper conjugation of the verb to lie or to lay.

Shanna Micko: That’s a tough one.

Laura Birek: There’s a lot of variations you have to Google before you can actually find the answer. Other people were saying, if they’re lying on their back, they can’t get a burp out. I also discovered that a lot of people call it trapped air, which I find strangely disgusting.

Shanna Micko: That just sounds like a fart stuck in your esophagus.

Laura Birek: Is there a difference?

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, no.

Laura Birek: It’s just a mouth fart.

Shanna Micko: There’s a difference.

Laura Birek: It’s one’s digested and one’s not.

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: Before pregnancy, I had Googled burping, lying on left side because for some weird reason, if I was lying down on my left side, I would just have continuous gurgles of gas coming from my stomach.

Shanna Micko: You and your poor esophageal problems.

Laura Birek: I know. My esophagus is real up fucked. That’s when I realized that it has to do with the shape of your stomach. It’s not a sphere. It’s a weird sort of like almost kidney shape or oblong. The esophagus goes into one side. So if you’re on your left side, I guess the stomach pull towards that side and things gurgle up more easily. If you’re on the right side, there’s more space between the contents of your stomach and the entrance from your sphincter between your esophagus and your stomach. But for some reason, now that I’m pregnant, the architecture of my midsection is all messed up. So I can’t get a burp out if I’m lying down. I don’t know about you, but one of my major pregnancy side effects is that I’m burping constantly.

Shanna Micko: It’s not one of mine, but I do know you’ve had a lot of heartburn. So I feel like that’s all related.

Laura Birek: Apparently, the progesterone makes you extra gassy. That’s apparently totally normal and common. But then in addition, not being able to expel it when I’m lying down and I’m not even talking fully lying on my back, any reclining position. 

The other night Corey and I have just started watching the Crown and I’m lying down watching Claire Foy being Queen Elizabeth and being all proper. I was feeling weird in my stomach, so I sat up and I just let out like the most gigantic douche.

Shanna Micko: Corey’s like, “My queen.”

Laura Birek: I was like, “I’m sorry, babe. I am no longer sexy.”

Shanna Micko: Man, what pregnancy does to our sex appeal.

Laura Birek: How about you? What were you Googling this week?

Shanna Micko: This week I Googled, “Do babies cry in the womb?”

Laura Birek: That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.

Shanna Micko: Have you ever wondered though?

Laura Birek: No.

Shanna Micko: Right. Okay.

Laura Birek: Now, I’m dying to find out.

Shanna Micko: Here’s a little bit of backstory about this. This week my husband and I went to a movie, our first movie all year. It’s ridiculous, because we’re parents we never get out. Anyways, the trailers were so loud defining and all of a sudden, it’s like my baby just whipped to life.

Laura Birek: Really?

Shanna Micko: It was crazy. She was kicking so hard, just rolling around, punching me and I got really freaked out. I was like, is this too loud for her? Is it hurting her ears? Is it scaring her? I was really worried. So of course, I had to Google can babies hear stuff and get scared in the womb and whatever and can the loud sounds hurt her ears? Basically, the answer to that is no, because there’s so much between her and the outside world. It’s very muffled, lots of fluid and everything. But I do like that one site was like, “If you wear earplugs, that’s not going to help shield your fetus from loud sounds.”

Laura Birek: People don’t understand how sound works.

Shanna Micko: No, they don’t. But anyway, as I was freaking out/Googling about all of this, someone mentioned that they had the same worry and Googled do babies cry in the womb, because I was worried about her being scared in there. So then, of course, I need to Google do babies cry in the womb and I found out that recent research suggests that they do.

Laura Birek: What?

Shanna Micko: Yes.

Laura Birek: We’re a podcast that can curse. Shut the up, Shanna. That just sounds mean. Okay. Wait. How and do they make actual noise?

Shanna Micko: I don’t know if they make noise. But new research shows that fetuses may learn to express their displeasure, this is a quote from some website, by crying silently while in the womb as early as the 28th week of pregnancy. Now, I’m not there yet. I’m only on 24, so I think my baby was startled and maybe freaked out, but she wasn’t crying about it. I don’t think. But they said that video recorded ultra sound images in the third trimester show that the fetuses in a startled response to low decibel noise playing in the abdomen, they display crying behavior like opening their mouths, depressing their tongues, taking irregular breaths and then they settle back down again. I don’t know if it’s technically crying, but images have shown that they’re behaving as if they’re crying. But I guess they got to get practice for that too. They practice everything else in there.

Laura Birek: Preemies cry, right?

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: I guess it makes sense. I just never thought about it. Now, I’m going to have nightmares.

Shanna Micko: I’m sorry, world. It does remind me that last time I was pregnant, my best friend asked me this question and I was just like, what? That’s ridiculous. No. I just didn’t even think to even Google it or anything and it’s come back around this time and I’ve found out the truth.

Laura Birek: The truth is in there in your uterus. Maybe she wasn’t startled though. Maybe she was just really jazzed about the next mission impossible or something.

Shanna Micko: I think she can’t wait to see Tom Cruise and hang off the edge of a helicopter when she gets born.

Laura Birek: He did those stunts himself, Shanna.

Shanna Micko: It’s impressive.


Laura Birek: We wrap up every episode with our big fat positives or big fat negatives of the weeks, our BFPs and BFNs. Shanna, what do you have for us this week?

Shanna Micko: This week I have a BFN, which is bending over.

Laura Birek: No.

Shanna Micko: As I mentioned before, I feel like I’m getting huge, my stomach is really sticking out there and bending over is so uncomfortable. Especially when you have a toddler, good God, I bend over constantly, like put your leg in your undies, put your leg in your shorts, and I’m just gasping for breath. I’m certain I’m squishing this baby. It’s just very uncomfortable, but it’s something it’s hard to avoid. I don’t know how to not bend over for stuff.

Laura Birek: Is this a thing where you have to start squatting? You know how they’re always like lift with your legs, not with your back. Is that just what has to happen?

Shanna Micko: Are you suggesting I exercise?

Laura Birek: I would never.

Shanna Micko: Maybe that’s why my legs have been hurting lately actually, because maybe I’m subconsciously accommodating by squatting instead of bending over.

Laura Birek: Which is good for you for birth. Although, I guess it doesn’t matter for you.

Shanna Micko: I’m having a planned C-Section, because I had one last time, so I don’t have to worry about that too much.

Laura Birek: Squat strength is good at any time.

Shanna Micko: I think so, especially since I’ve been pretty much immobile for no good reason this whole pregnancy. So I guess it’s good to get some exercise.

Laura Birek: I’m just thinking about like ergonomics. They’re always telling you to squat down instead of leaning using your back.

Shanna Micko: But it just seems so unnatural to squat down to tie your shoe. Even like if I’m sitting on the couch and something falls on the floor, it’s like everything compacts and your baby goes into your lungs and your lungs go into your throat. I don’t know if you’re there yet, but everything is just like squished up.

Laura Birek: I’m definitely getting squished up and I have noticed that I can’t quite do all the things I’ve been needing to do as far as like reaching for things. Even reaching to the side too, I’m like, there’s something there. What’s happening? I did have the thought of, how am I going to get my shoes on eventually? Literally, I don’t know.

Shanna Micko: Sandals, slip-ons or husband top.

Laura Birek: It’s winter. I know it’s Los Angeles.

Shanna Micko: I think a friend of ours she’s mentioned before that she had her husband help her put on her shoes and boots and stuff towards the end.

Laura Birek: I think that’s going to have to happen.

Shanna Micko: That’s why we got married, Laura.

Laura Birek: That is the number one reason. Folks out there, if you’re thinking about marriage, just know you’ll need someone to put your shoes on when you’re pregnant.

Shanna Micko: Anyway, BFP or BFN this week?

Laura Birek: All right. I have a BFP that might sound like a BFN, but I’m going to explain myself. My BFP positive is an essay really that was published in the Paris Review by a woman named Claudia Dey, who I actually hadn’t heard of and the title of the essay is Mothers as Makers of Death.

Shanna Micko: Oh, boy.

Laura Birek: It doesn’t sound cheerful and it’s not cheerful. But the reason it’s a BFP for me is that first of all, it’s a beautifully written essay. Of course, I will post a link to this on our website so everyone can read it, but it’s a beautifully written essay and as a person who loves writing and reading, I just love anything that’s really well written and honest. Shanna, you and I both have done a lot of life storytelling and I just love a first person essay that’s just really raw and beautiful. On top of it, I just love when people are honest about their feelings about motherhood. The essay is musings on her trying to write a novel and how she was sort of left alone. Her husband took her kids and allowed her to be alone to finish the novel and how once you give birth, you’re never alone again and all this stuff. A lot of philosophical musings on what it means to be a mother that you cleave into these two humans and you’re no longer able to just think of yourself because you have this piece of yourself that’s walking around outside of your body. It’s not a cheery, what a magical, wonderful time of your life article and that’s exactly why I like it because I get sick of that everything’s going to change. It’s going to be so beautiful, magical. Somebody on one of my Facebook groups said something. They were asking for advice about how to limit the number of toys and gifts that their mother-in-law would bring their kids all the time, because every time they showed up, they showed up with new toys and new stuff and they didn’t have any room for it and it drove them crazy. I commented like, “I’m pregnant with my first and I’m terrified of this happening, because we live in a small house and I don’t like a lot of clutter,” and some woman commented, “You shouldn’t be terrified. You should be excited. You’re about to meet the love of your life and it’ll bring so much joy in your life. You shouldn’t worry about these little things.” I’m like, “Let me be.”

Shanna Micko: Don’t take dimensional about my emotions, first of all.

Laura Birek: Thank you. Clap for Shanna. I may be terrified. I was being a little hyperbolic. I’m not literally shaking in the corner, because I’m afraid my mom is going to buy too many toys for the baby. It’s a concern I have. I have a tidy life that I enjoy. I’m not like a total neat freak. I like not having a ton of clutter and it’s a worry I have and it felt belittling to me and then it also was this sort of policing of the tone that you’re supposed to take around motherhood, like everything is supposed to be a fucking joy. When I read this article and thankfully another mom, friend of mine, had posted it, I was like, yes. This is everything. That’s why it’s my BFP. I want to share it. It’s a little dark. Nobody actually dies in the essay. It’s not like one of those essays when the New York Times Modern Love or loss or whatever where they’re like, “And then everyone in my family died and I had to learn how to deal with it.” It’s not like that. It’s just like philosophical musings on the connection between motherhood and death and it’s fabulously written and it really made me have a lovely, nice reflection.

Shanna Micko: It sounds more realistic. Also, I like how yours in this segment is literature and mine is bending over. You know what? It’s okay. I can see it just encompasses all. I can’t wait to read that article.

Laura Birek: Bending over also sucks, so we’re allowed to be concerned about both of them. Yes, I will send you the article and it will be on our website.

Shanna Micko: All right. Cool. That’s it for our show today. Thank you guys so much for listening. We would love it if you would rate and subscribe and let us know what you Googled this week or what your BFPs or BFNs are. Laura, where can they find us?

Laura Birek: We’re on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at BFP Podcast. We also have a Facebook community you can join, but if you go to the BFP Podcast account on Facebook, it links right to it. Super easy. We also have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com, where you can get our show notes and see the links to my terrifying sonogram and the cool article I was just talking about.

Shanna Micko: Big Fat Positive is produced by Shawn Micko, Laura Birek and Steve Yager.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening.

Shanna Micko: Bye.