One of the most fascinating things about human life is the story of birth and evolution. The union of a simple egg and a sperm leads to something as beautiful as life itself. What starts of as something in the size of an egg grows and develops into a complete package that has all the essential organs that a normal functional adult will need (only that it is initially in miniature form and it eventually grows up to take its shape).
Now, as all of us are well aware, the brain is the most important organ in our body. It is here that all the decisions about the control and coordination of all other body parts are initiated. Thus, when we talk about the growth of the baby in the womb, one of the most important developments that we must consider is that of the fetal brain development.
Things like the different stages when the baby has brain development in the womb and how your diet and lifestyle can aid in the same is something that is discussed in the course of this article.
Read on to know more.
- First Trimester - Month 1 & 2
- First Trimester - Month 3
- Second Trimester
- Third Trimester
- Ensuring Fetal Brain Development
• First Trimester - Month 1 & 2
The neural plate is the foundation of the human neural system. The entire brain, spinal cord and other organs are mere parts of the neural system. Now, about a fortnight since the child is conceived, the neural plate is formed as a small lump of mass. Overtime, this lump expands itself to the neural tube.
Somewhere in the second month of pregnancy, the neural tube divides itself to three parts. These parts are the fore-brain, mid-brain and hind-brain. Over the next few weeks, there is a more detailed development of the brain stem, cerebellum, cerebrum, pituitary gland and hypothalamus. The spinal cord also starts forming by the end of the first couple of months of fetal growth.
• First Trimester - Month 3
Just as it is the case with all of us, the baby's nervous cells is made up by a number of neurons and any activity on the part of the fetus is achieved by communication between these nerve cells. During the last month of the first trimester, there is the formation of special neural cells that migrate through the embryo and lay the foundation of the nerves.
By the end of the first trimester, proper communication is established in your baby and he or she is able to wriggle his or her limbs and settle in the comfortable fetal position.
• Second Trimester
Talking in terms of growth, the second trimester is perhaps the most active period in the entire pregnancy. It is here that things like the baby's natural reflexes develop. As a consequence, the baby starts swallowing amniotic fluid. This amniotic fluid ensures that nutrition reaches him or her from the mother's body.
Simultaneously, there is contraction of the chest muscles and the baby takes to practice breathing. All this is guided by the fetal brain development. It is towards the middle of the second trimester, a covering of myelin is established over your baby's nerves. Myelin speeds up the messaging procedure between the different nerve cells. By the end of the second trimester, the fetal's brain stream rests just above the spinal cord.
It is almost fully mature and the only area that is yet to be developed is the cerebral cortex. By now, the baby is able to perform well-coordinated activities like blinking, dreaming and is affected by loud noises in the environment. You may also notice that your baby has well-defined sleep cycles by now.
Whether those sleep cycles are in sync with that of your own is something that depends on your luck alone and cannot be predicted on a general basis.
• Third Trimester
During the last few months of your pregnancy, there is a rapid increase in the growth of the wiring and the neurons in your baby. It is at this point that the part of the brain that is responsible for motor control, the cerebellum, undergoes a massive developmental surge. A direct consequence of this is a three-time increase in the size of the brain.
Apart from this, the part of the baby's brain that is responsible for all that thinking, recalling and emotional well-being (that is the cerebral cortex) starts developing at this stage. This particular part functions fully only when the baby is born, however, the development of the organs happens in the 8th and the 9th month of pregnancy.
It is to be noted that it is in this trimester that the baby's brain changes its texture from that of a clean and smooth one to that of being grooved and indented like that of your and my brain.
• Ensuring Fetal Brain Development
As is evident from the article, the brain development of the unborn child begins pretty early on in pregnancy and goes up to the very end of the same. In such a situation, in order to facilitate ideal growth, it is important to take 400 mg of folate on a daily basis from the moment when you know that you are pregnant.
Folate is a combination of vitamin B and folic acid and plays a crucial role in fetal cell growth, DNA and tissue development. Taking of prenatal vitamins is also an absolute must. However, merely consuming these tablets on a regular basis is not enough to ensure proper brain development for your little one.
You will have to eat a proper balanced diet that is enriched with the goodness of green leafy vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acid (particularly DHA) is another important component that must be incorporated in your diet in order to foster brain development in your little one.
Thus, try to consume DHA fortified eggs, seaweed or cold water fish like salmon, trout and cod. These will provide your little one the ideal conditions of growth and foster the way for his brain development.