Initially, we were all only tiny cells that were formed during the process of fertilization. In this process of fertilization or conception, we slowly began to grow and develop into a baby. We were developing into a brand new baby, who carries new genes. Later these genes became ‘’guilty’’ for having father’s blue eyes, mother’s long nose or even for becoming the person who we are today. But, besides our inherited DNA, we were also influenced by some environmental factors like schooling and socializing. And, they also had an enormous influence in creating our personal identity.
However, in the past twenty years, scientists have discovered that the time when we are enjoying the comfort of our mother’s womb; was actually the time that determined our well-being in life. So, pregnancy is not just a ‘’simple’’ nine-month carriage of a baby.
It is also a combination of experiences that could determine not only our physical or mental health but also the future of our identity.
And, in that ‘journey’ of exploring our mother’s womb, there were nine things that designed who we are today.
Here Are The 9 Things That Shaped Your Identity Even Before Birth
1. The X/Y Chromosome
Each sperm contains an X and Y chromosome. These chromosomes are also called ‘sex’ chromosomes because they decide whether we will be a boy or a girl.
So, when the sperm is carrying an X chromosome while ‘meeting’ with the egg, then the baby will be a female. And when the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome while fertilizing the egg then the baby will be a boy.
However, researchers in Seattle discovered that the fertilization between the sperm and egg is not a random act of choice only by the sperm.
Their research reveals that the egg actively chooses the sperm, especially the sperm with the healthiest genes.
And when they finally meet their genes ‘fly’ inside our mother’s womb for a whole nine months. Later, the ‘mix’ of these genes is‘responsible’ for creating our genetic code as new human beings.
2. The Chemical Signal
Embryonic cells communicate by using chemical signals. These signals involve small or large molecules by a sending cell. They are often produced by the sending cell and they can float like ‘messages in a bottle’ to the closest ‘neighbor’ cell.
When we were just cells we needed to release this chemical signal and ‘prove’ that we were successfully implanted.
It is like an entrance exam that we need to pass in order to create our own place in our mother’s womb.
But, a new study shows that two-thirds of embryos tend to fail in this process of being developed.
However, Jan Brosens, a professor at the University of Warwick, said that with the help of their future studies, they will try to reduce those pregnancy complications.
“What we’re looking at now is how to alter the lining of the womb, so it can set this ‘entrance exam’ at the right level, and prevent implantation failure and miscarriages.’’
3. The DNA
DNA is the co-creator of our face. Human faces share the same structure, but every face is a ‘’product’’ of a unique DNA. According to a study the traits that make every face unique and beautiful came from a specific crew of genes.
“We are marking the beginning of understanding the genetic basis of the human face’’, indicated the lead researcher Manfred Kayser.
In the study, Kayser and his colleagues scanned the heads of 5,388 European volunteers by using magnetic resonance.
They analyzed the genetic ‘material’ of the participants in order to discover the genes ‘’behind’’ the facial features.
“The most surprising thing is that we did find genes.’’
Their hunt of genes found PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1 as genes that have an important role in the facial structure.
He also added: ‘’we are rather at the beginning, but to ever actually reach the level to start to understand the human face, I would not have imagined it eight years ago’’.
4. The Age of Fetus
Our limbs develop by the 11th week. This period is also known as the age of a fetus. And, during this period we began to move our arms and legs. Moving one arm more than the other had caused us to favor one side over the other.
So, if we were stretching or using the left hand more than the right hand, then we will be considered as lefties.
Studies revealed that only nine out of ten fetuses become right-handed and only one out of ten becomes a leftie.
But, there are also the ambidextrous fetuses, who are able to use the right and left hand equally. The ambidextrous are really rare and they are less than 1 percent. This signifies that hand preference is also ‘destined’ by our genes.
5. The Amniotic Fluid
The amnion is a membrane that closely protects the embryo when it is formed. It fills the amnion with an amniotic fluid. And, that causes the amnion to expand and to create a protective environment for the embryo.
But, while we are feeling safe and protected, and with time the skin around our fingers begins to crumple and change.
These changes in our skin help us to create our own unique fingerprints with all their loops, arches and whorls.
In the amniotic fluid every human fetus, ‘survive’ in a different way. Even identical twins develop different patterns in creating their own fingerprints. By the 17th week, all of us succeed to develop our own fingerprints that are now ‘marking’ us as unique individuals in the world.
6. HLA Proteins
While our body was forming, our immune system was forming too. But in order to protect our immune system from bacteria and viruses we created our own human leukocyte antigen (HLA).
HLA is a gene ‘family’ that we inherited from our parents. But, a study discovers that HLA can also determine our choice of sexual partner, by influencing our scent of other bodies. Their results revealed that women who are in their menstrual cycle prefer the smell of men with a high level of testosterone and they are also more attracted to partners with a different HLA gene.
But, in another study, it was shown that most women choose partners with a similar HLA type rather than partners with dissimilar ones. They were tested during their ovulatory phase.
And, their reaction with the male subjects of similar HLA was an enthusiastic reaction in comparison with the other males who carried a different HLA.
Yet, it doesn’t matter whether we choose a partner with the same or different HLA as long as we try to have a healthy immune system.
7. The Level of Testosterone
Our gender is determined by the presence of testosterone. So, if the level of testosterone is considerably high, then male genitals will begin to form. And, if there isn’t any ‘sign’ of testosterone then female genitals will begin to develop.
But, besides shaping male organs the testosterone can also shape the male brain. And, in the mother’s womb male fetuses usually receive a high level of testosterone while female fetuses receive a lower dose of adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands include adrenalin and cortisol.
Although, a research suggests that testosterone as a hormone can not only shape but also improve some areas of the brain. These areas are usually related with the cognitive performance, especially the long and short memory of the brain. But, on the other hand the results of a European study discovered that the testosterone can also ‘redesign’ the female brain too.
Rupert Lanzenberger, a lead researcher says,
“These findings may suggest that the genuine difference between the brains of women and men is substantially attributable to the effects of circulating sex hormones’’.
8. The Cone Cells
At the end of 28 weeks, we were almost ready to see the world. Our eyes developed the cone cells. These cells are ‘’hidden’’ in every human eye and they are responsible for our daylight vision. Along with the cone cells the pigments that could detect blue, green or red light were also produced. The appearance of pigments is closely determined by the light of the color.
Some studies show that most of the babies can detect ten million different colors after they are born.
Other studies reveal that only 8 % of the males and 0.5 % of the females are born color blind, without all the necessary pigments.
And, being color blind is the inability to distinguish certain colors, or any colors at all. On the other hand, there are also lucky people. They are born with a fourth type of pigment and that enables them to sense more visible lights between colors. These people see more vividly.
9. The Mother’s Womb
The time we all ‘spent’ in our mother’s womb is the most important time in our life. According to researchers the environment that we encounter inside our mother’s womb had a permanent influence on our future health.
This includes the proper functioning of our heart, liver, and pancreas. Also, it had an impact in ‘designing’ our brain and temperament.
However, we were also vulnerable to the external environment of our mother. And, her diet or habit of smoking had an influence on our health too.
So, researchers have analyzed whether the DNA of the baby in the womb is mostly determined by the inherited genes or by the mother’s lifestyle.
One of the research Professors Godfrey said:
“This research provides important evidence about the changes in a baby’s genes. They have only a modest influence on its profile at birth and most of the variation between babies arises from interactions between the environment experienced in the womb and the genes inherited from the parents.’’
They concluded that the mother’s nutrition and lifestyle have a long-lasting effect on the health of her baby. So, if our mother was leading a healthy life, then we were also ‘programmed’ to lead a healthy life.
To create our own identity is to create our true self. And, even though our identity was already shaped before birth that doesn’t mean that we should accept it as our destined identity. We can choose to improve our personal identity by choosing to improve our basic beliefs. These beliefs and principles are part of our moral compass in life.
And, when we are guided by them we start to make the right choices. With these choices, we are acknowledging who we are and what we value. Some people value money, some value education, others value friendship, and love.
But, only a few people value themselves and their own identity. This lack of identity can lead to uncertainty about ourselves and the world around us.
This uncertainty about ourselves can ‘’blind’’ us in discovering our potential or the things that ‘feel right’ to us. So, ‘upgrading’ our personal identity is necessary for ‘upgrading’ our personal growth.
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- Michael Mosley , (2017), ‘’Nine Things That Shape Your Identity Before Birth’’
- Annie Murphy Paul , (2011), ‘’Origins : How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives’’
- ShahramHeshmat (2014), ‘’Basics of Identity’’
- ‘’University of Southampton’’ , (2014), ‘’Development in the Womb : New insights on epigenetic influence on baby’’
- Rachel E. Gross , (2015), ‘’New Study : Testosterone Changes the Brain’’
- Bettina M. Pause (1999), ‘’Perception of the HLA-Related Body Odors During the Course of the Menstrual Course’’
- Wallace G. Smith , (2015), ‘’The Wonder of Life In The Womb’’
- Rachael Rettner , (2014), ‘’Fate of a Fertilized Egg: Why Some Embryos Don’t Implant’’
- Phoebe Weston, (2017), ‘’Fussy eggs actively choose sperm with the best genes suggesting that fertilization is NOT random’’
- Trevor Stokes , (2012), ‘’5 Face-Shaping Genes Identified’’