Thursday, April 23, 2009

Promoting Brain Activity During Pregnancy

There are quite a few ways of ensuring proper fetal brain activity and growth. Your doctor should tell you the main things to focus on while pregnant, but just as a reminder, I will list them here as well.

1. First and foremost, avoid smoking, alcohol, caffeine, and drugs!!! This should be a no-brainer, but it still boggles my mind when I see a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette! These things are known to impair neurological development, so give them all up cold-turkey in order to give your baby the best chance at a bright future. This should actually be done even before conception to ensure that none of those harmful things get anywhere near your baby!

2. Gain weight! In order for your baby to grow adequately, it is recommended women gain between 25-40 pounds. Starting after your first trimester, you should consume an extra 300 calories per day, and make sure to include about 10-12 more grams of protein than you would usually eat. Too much weight gain can lead to a large baby, making it difficult when it comes time to deliver. However, not gaining enough weight can lead to the baby having a smaller head and brain.

3. Eat a well-balanced diet. Take a multivitamin or prenatal pill, depending on what your doctor recommends. These will ensure your baby is getting the nutrients it needs for neurological development. If taking a multivitamin, clear it with your doctor and make sure it has enough iron and b vitamins for you and your baby. You can start taking these vitamins even before you get pregnant as they help reduce the risk of neuronatal diseases.

4. Practice good hygiene. This is important to avoid viral infections. Wash your hands frequently, avoid sharing food and drinks with others (including loved ones) and report any symptoms to your doctor immediately. Do not forget to speak up while visiting your doctor and ask them ANY questions on your mind.

5. Exercise regularly. It will help ease the stress level of yourself as well as your baby, and should help to ensure a smooth delivery.

Now that we have the basics down, we can get into the fun stuff! What can be done to promote brain activity?
It has been reported that by the 26th week of gestation, the body of the fetus will react to vibration and loud sounds. This is due to the maturing of the brainstem. As the brainstem continues to mature, it becomes more and more responsive to external sounds. By 36 weeks, the brainstem responds to external noises and even the sound of the mother’s voice with reflexive movements, head turning, and an accelerated fetal heart rate. Through repetitive auditory stimulation, neural networks are molded. These pathways will then respond to familiar sounds, such as its mother’s voice or certain melodies. So sing, play music, and read to your baby throughout the last trimester and it will get those neural circuits in your baby’s young brain working!

Another idea is to play ethnic music during your pregnancy as well as throughout your young child’s life. Any music in a foreign language will work. Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from repetitive exposure to the language. This will not affect the way they learn their native language, it will just help wire the brain in a way that makes it easier for them to accept and learn new languages later on in life. So when it comes time for that Spanish or French class, your child’s brain will already have the connections it needs in order to take on a foreign language!

“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  1. Wonderful! I played music with headphones for all my kids and sang myself (not sure if that did anything positive loli sound horrid)LOve the blogs keep them up !

  2. Yes I agree...Jackson is already saying "oui" and "si" and he's only 11 weeks old! Or, maybe he's just cooing and it sounds like French and Spanish! ;)