The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulatory capacity begins before birth as the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity contributes significantly to the fetus' development. Several studies have shown how vagus nerve is involved in many vital processes during fetal, perinatal and postnatal life: from the regulation of inflammation through the anti-inflammatory cholinergic pathway, which may affect the functioning of each organ, to the production of hormones involved in bioenergetic metabolism. In addition, the vagus nerve has been recognized as the primary afferent pathway capable of transmitting information to the brain from every organ of the body. Therefore, this hypothesis paper aims to review the development of ANS during fetal and perinatal life, focusing particularly on the vagus nerve, to identify possible "critical windows" that could impact its maturation. These "critical windows" could help clinicians know when to monitor fetuses to effectively assess the developmental status of both ANS and specifically the vagus nerve. In addition, this paper will focus on which factors (i.e. fetal characteristics and behaviors, maternal lifestyle and pathologies, placental health and dysfunction, labor, incubator conditions, and drug exposure) may have an impact on the development of the vagus during the above-mentioned "critical window" and how. This analysis could help clinicians and stakeholders define precise guidelines for improving the management of fetuses and newborns, particularly to reduce the potential adverse environmental impacts on ANS development that may lead to persistent long-term consequences. Since the development of ANS and the vagus influence have been shown to be reflected in cardiac variability, this paper will rely in particular on studies using fetal heart rate variability (fHRV) to monitor the continued growth and health of both animal and human fetuses.