Your Baby's brain Development pre-birth to post-birth
Why understanding your baby’s brain development, before birth and after birth, is so important
I know you want a healthy happy baby – that is what every new Mom and Dad want. Life does not always guarantee that this will happen, but there is so much you can do to help make your baby healthy and happy.
Extensive research which has been available for decades, now shows that the nine months of pregnancy and the first two years after birth – is when your baby is developing his/her ability to think, feel and develop relationships with others. This is the time when you are shaping your baby’s personality and coping abilities.
Before becoming pregnant – ensuring your body is fit and healthy, and as drug free as possible (alcohol, smoking etc), and it is recommended to take folate even before you become pregnant to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Pregnancy first trimester – the first three months are crucial times for formation of your baby’s organs and most importantly, your baby’s brain. Avoiding all drugs during this time is crucial (see alcohol pregnancy), this will help provide your baby with the best environment for growth.
Pregnancy second trimester - continue to provide your body with healthy nutrients which are then passed on to your growing baby (foetus). Ensure you have enough iron so that your blood carries adequate amounts of oxygen via the placenta – to your baby. Continue to avoid drugs particularly alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs. Check with your Doctor if you need to take drugs for medical reasons.
The other substances your blood carries to your baby – are hormones and growth factors which influence how your baby’s organs develop and mature.
By the 18th week of gestation (pregnancy) – billions of basic nerve cells (neurons) have been laid down in your baby’s brain. These nerve cells need the connecting structures of synapses and dendrites – in order for them to work properly.
While this is happening, if you are sending loving thoughts to your baby, this helps these connections take place.
Pregnancy third trimester - your baby’s organs and brain continue to develop.
The main thing to remember during this trimester is that the expecting Mum is producing hormones in response to how she is feeling about her environment and her life in general. These hormones in turn will pass via her blood to her baby, and these hormones have a great effect on your baby’s brain development. We all have good days and bad days – and it is really important that the expecting Mom makes some time everyday to feel good – to remember experiences that warm your heart – so that those “feel good” hormones are the ones you are sending to your baby. Your baby thrives when you are feeling good.
This is a crucial time for the development of your baby’s forebrain – the frontal lobe, which is behind the eyes. The frontal lobe is responsible for
• Learning abilities (your memory, and how quickly you understand things - which will affect how well your child does at school)
• Limbic system which is where we learn how to relate to others; how to let other people know what our basic needs are; how to control our impulses and how to adjust to the environment we live in.
• You want the forebrain to be getting as much blood as possible – as this is carrying oxygen and nutrients for your baby’s brain to grow and form essential connections. Under stressful situations, stress hormones cause the blood to be diverted from the forebrain to the “hind brain” – which prepares the body for a “fight or flight” response