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Does the fetus experience pain the way we do?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The fetal response to touch takes places in the spinal cord and brain stem, which are the lowest and most primitive levels of the central nervous system. That means that fetuses don't process touch - and by extension, pain - in the intellectual part of the brain known as the cerebral cortex, so they don't experience pain the same way that we do (a fact that may comfort you if your baby goes through a stressful delivery).

The peripheral nerves that scout out sensations throughout their bodies are sending messages that pain might be occurring, but the fetal brain cannot understand these signals or put them into perspective.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.