During pregnancy, the foods you eat directly impact the growth and development of your coming child. A diet high in fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, low-fat dairy and entire grains is important for supporting the development of every organ, including the brain.
However, if you want to support the development of the fetal brain particularly, you can also add certain foods to your diet that foster neuronal development in the womb.
Baby Brain Development First Trimester
A mere 16 days after conception, your fetus’s neural plate types. It grows longer and folds onto itself, till that fold morphs into a groove, and that groove becomes a tube– the neural tube. As soon as the neural tube closes, at around week 6 or week 7 of pregnancy, it curves and bulges into 3 areas, typically referred to as the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain.
Just to the rear of the hindbrain sits the part that will soon become your baby’s spinal cord. Quickly, these areas bubble into those 5 various regions of the brain that we’re most acquainted with: the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Obviously, all these fetal brain areas require more time to be completely operating.
At the same time, special neural cells form and migrate throughout the embryo to form the very beginnings of nerves. Your baby’s nerve system is comprised of millions upon countless neurons; each of these microscopic cells have itty-bitty branches coming off of them so that they can connect and interact with each other. With this comes baby’s first synapses, which basically implies baby’s nerve cells can interact and develop early fetal movements … like curling into the fetal position.
Other movements follow rapidly, with your fetus wiggling his developing limbs at around 8 weeks. By the end of the first trimester, your baby-to-be has gathered quite a collection of movement, though you won’t be able to feel any of it quite yet. And at about the same time as baby first wiggles his limbs, he starts to develop the sense of touch.
Baby Brain Second Trimester
During the 2nd trimester, stable contractions of baby’s diaphragm and chest muscles happen. Baby’s first sucking and swallowing impulses kick in around 16 weeks. By 21 weeks, your baby’s natural reflexes will permit him to swallow a number of ounces of amniotic fluid every day. And all of that swallowing indicates baby’s tasting, too– another sense that’s now completely gear.
At around 18 weeks of pregnancy, you’ll feel baby’s first kick (however do not worry if it takes a few weeks longer– that’s typical, specifically among newbie moms). Around the same time, your baby’s nerves end up being covered with myelin, a protective insulation that speeds messages in between afferent neuron (myelin continues to grow till your baby’s first birthday). And at 24 weeks, another huge reflex happens: Blinking.
At the tail-end of trimester two, your youngster’s brainstem (heart rate, breathing, blood pressure) is almost totally fully grown, resting just above the spinal cord however listed below the cortex (the last area to grow). By now, the fetal nervous system is established enough so your baby is shocked by loud sounds outside the womb– and may even turn his head towards the sound of your voice! Another exciting development: At 28 weeks, fetal brainwave activity features sleep cycles, including REM (the stage when dreaming occurs).
Baby Brain Third Trimester
The 3rd trimester is overflowing with fast development of neurons and circuitry. Baby’s brain approximately triples in weight during the last 13 weeks of pregnancy, growing from about 3.5 ounces at the end the 2nd trimester to practically 10.6 ounces at term. And it’s starting to look various, too: Its previously once smooth surface is ending up being progressively grooved and indented (like the images of brains you’re used to seeing).
At the same time, the cerebellum (motor control) is establishing quick– much faster now than other area of the fetal brain (its area increases 30-fold in the last 16 weeks of pregnancy).
All this growth huges news for the cortex. Though this important area of the brain is developing quickly during pregnancy, it really just starts to operate around the time a full-term baby is born– and it progressively and slowly grows in the first few years of life, thanks to baby’s enriching environment.
Best Food for Baby Brain During Pregnancy
Because your baby’s nerve system starts establishing right out of the beginning gates, it’s crucial to consume 400 micrograms of folate (aka folic acid or vitamin B) daily as quickly as you think you might want to get pregnant. This nutrient is essential for fetal cell growth, tissue development and DNA– and consuming enough before (and early in) pregnancy reduces a baby’s opportunity of serious neural tube flaws (like spina bifida) by 70 percent.
Emerging research in the Journal of the American Medical Association likewise recommends that the nutrient can reduce the chances your child will be born with an autism spectrum disorder by approximately 40 percent. So take your prenatal vitamin (which needs to have at least 400 mcg), and make certain to eat plenty of folate-rich foods (like leafy greens and entire grains).
Another important nutrient for brain (and eye) development: omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (aka docosahexaenoic acid). Getting enough– particularly during your 3rd trimester, when baby’s brain is establishing the fastest– is important, since it’s a major structural fat in the brain and eyes. The bright side: DHA is discovered in lots of safe-to-eat fatty, cold water fish (like salmon, trout and cod), in addition to seaweed and DHA-fortified eggs.
Strengthened cereals provide a number of the micronutrients necessary for correct fetal brain development. The folic acid and choline in fortified cereals help avoid spina bifida and other neural tube problems. Iron in prepared cereals can likewise enhance fetal brain health– iron shortages during pregnancy are a leading cause of avoidable mental retardation. Select a strengthened cereal low in sugar and high in fiber to guarantee that both you and your baby are the healthiest you can be.
Fish consist of the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is needed for optimal brain development. Children born to moms with a deficiency of DHA develop visual and behavioral problems; moms with high omega-3 intake during pregnancy have the tendency to have children who do much better on tests measuring spoken, social and communication skills during early youth.
One to two servings of fish weekly is ideal due to the fact that this quantity provides enough DHA for brain development without exposing the mom and baby to high levels of mercury or other toxic substances that can sometimes be found in fish.
Sea veggies, such as the seaweed nori, are an exceptional source of iodine. Iodine assists in brain and spinal cord development and prevents psychological retardation. Sea veggies likewise include folic acid, choline and omega-3 fats, so it enhances brain development in a few various ways. Prevent the brown sea vegetable hijiki, nevertheless, since it can include high levels of arsenic.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds consist of healthy omega-3 fats along with a lot of brain-boosting micronutrients, such as vitamin B6. This vitamin assists in normal brain working by functioning as a chemical messenger between brain cells. Simply include a handful of nuts or seeds to your meal strategy every day. Walnuts are particularly helpful since they are high in omega-3 fatty acids in addition to having a lot of micronutrients.
Chemicals in daily individual care and other products discovered around the house might endanger fetal and child brain development, according to a 2016 report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Those of most concern include phthalates, which are discovered in lots of appeal products, toiletries and plastics; lead; mercury; particular pesticides used on produce and in home gardens; air toxins and flame retardants. The essential thing is, though, not to worry too much.
Speak with your doctor to see if there’s anything you can do to reduce baby’s risk, however chances are these chemicals will not be an issue and whatever will turn out just fine.
Good luck! Have a nice weekend.