Your Baby will be born with around 100 billion (that’s 100,000,000,000) neurons, the foundation of a functioning brain. How these neurons are formed, also depends on what you do during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Your Baby ’s brain development technically begins during the third week of your pregnancy, when rapidly multiplying cells form what’s called the neural plate. This structure eventually folds in on itself to become the neural tube, which then turns into the forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain, and the spinal cord.
The growth of 100,000 cells per minute
At four weeks, the part of Your Baby which will develop into the brain and nervous system, represents almost half of his entire body. At week 7, the nerve cells in Your Baby ’s brain are growing at a rate of around 100,000 cells per minute.
The critical period
The fact that the brain represents such a big portion of Your Baby ’s body and develops at such a fast rate, makes this period critical for healthy development.
Things to avoid
In order to give Your Baby the best prospects for healthy brain development during this critical period, avoid any alcohol, unsafe drugs, and smoking. Even small doses of toxic substances can impair Your Baby ’s growing brain today, and lead to a reduction of the IQ when Your Baby enters school in 6-7 years.
Try to avoid stress too
If you experience high levels of stress, depression or anxiety, speak to your partner, or try to seek professional help. Studies have shown that cortisol, a hormone in your body that is released when you experience stress, can impair Your Baby ’s tiny brain and even lead to schizophrenia 30 years later.
Relax and eat choline!
To give Your Baby the best prospect for a powerful brain, avoid extreme stress and eat healthily. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain. Choline supports your baby’s brain already during pregnancy. Egg yolk, meat, fish, and some whole grains are good sources. But you can also take choline supplements.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2546388/)
- Prenatal Care, Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-care/art-20045302)
- Prevention, Schizophrenia (http://www.schizophrenia.com/prevention/stress.html)