A child is born with 100 billion neurons forming connections with one another and creating an elaborate messaging network that scientists consider the most complex biological system in the world. Your developing baby’s brain grows at an incredible rate during pregnancy. Mom-to-be’s nutrition intake during pregnancy has a major impact on a baby's brain development be it memory or capacity to learn. Here is why you should know how your nutritional intake will impact your baby’s growth and development.
Trimester 1 | Month 1 & 2
Baby’s brain development technically begins during the third week of your pregnancy. At four weeks in utero, a baby’s brain is not much bigger than a grain of salt, and at seven weeks, it barely measures a quarter inch. Intake of food rich in Folate plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps baby’s neural tube develop into his/her brain and spinal cord.
Trimester 1 | Month 3
By the end of month 3 or trimester one, your baby’s neural tube i.e. the brain, the spinal cord and other neural tissues of the central nervous system, is well formed. Choline also plays an important role in baby’s proper spinal cord formation and early brain development.
Trimester 2 | Month 4
During the second trimester, your baby's brain is directing steady contractions of the diaphragm and chest muscles. Relax and try to avoid stress during pregnancy as it may increase risk of congenital brain malfunctions in babies. Continue with your dose of Vitamin B12 since it plays a vital role in preventing spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects in baby.
Trimester 2 | Month 5
250,000 neurons are created in your baby every minute during this month of second trimester. The neurons begin to migrate to different regions of your developing baby’s brain, where they take on specific roles, such as interpreting sounds and storing memories. DHA is found in brain-cell membranes, so there are plenty of ways they can influence brain function. Make sure to make DHA a part of your daily nutrition intake.
Trimester 2 | Month 6
Towards the end of trimester two, your little one's brainstem that controls heart rate, breathing and blood pressure is almost entirely mature. Your baby's brain can now generate natural reflexes like blinking, swallowing and tasting. Pump up your Iron intake as it helps deliver life sustaining oxygen to the baby's brain and other parts of the body.
Trimester 3 | Month 7
Onset of trimester three witnesses a rapid brain development in your baby. Baby's brain starts increasing in weight from this month onwards. The weight of the brain in this month is approximately around 300g. Continue to take food rich in Proteins as the baby's brain, in particular, needs proteins to transform itself into the organs that will help him/her breathe, walk and talk.
Trimester 3 | Month 8
By month 8, baby’s auditory cortex, the visual cortex, and Broca’s area (a region of the brain associated with producing speech) begin to function, lending your developing baby a primitive ability to interpret sights and sounds and to distinguish language. Intake of food rich in Vitamin A & E helps protect baby’s brain tissue from damage as these nutrients are also great antioxidants.
Trimester 3 | Month 9
Towards the trail-end of your pregnancy, the baby's brain is completely developed and senses are in action. With progress in the growth of the child, the neurons and transmitters that are formed need extensive support to spread their network and make the brain cells stronger. Zinc in you diet can prevent the occurrence of any behavioural or learning problems in a child.
Apart from taking prenatal supplements and food rich in above mentioned nutrients, make sure to include a good amount of Iodine in your diet to prevent a deficiency that can leave the child cognitively impaired and even set in a premature delivery. A healthy brain development of baby during pregnancy is the key to a healthy life.
Disclaimer: It is important to consult with your Doctor before deciding the dose and content of nutrition before consumption.
The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid