An expectant mother is probably curious about the all important factor of fetal brain development; what grows, when and at what speed; and equally what a woman can do herself to maximize that development.
There are many things that are completely out of control of the pregnant woman: genetics dictates to a huge extent the way that fetal brain development takes place.
The internal environments of the uterus and sperm quality are also very important; which are beyond the control of the pregnant woman. But there are a few things that a woman can do to make sure that the baby’s brain development is the best that it can be.
Get in good health before pregnancy
A woman wanting to become pregnant as well as the father to be, can make sure that they give their future baby the best possible start to life by getting in the best physical and mental health they possibly can.
Firstly it is important to give up any unhealthy habits that either the future mother of father has – smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or any substance abuse.
The impact of smoking on sperm quality and fertility are well known. As for the impact of alcohol use and smoking while pregnant on fetal brain development; that is as pernicious if not more so.
Any chronic disease should be in control, weight should be brought within healthy limits, regular exercise and nutritious diet can adhered to, so that the baby is conceived in the best of health.
Keep stress in control for proper neurodevelopment
It is important to keep stress in control before conception (it is known that stress can negatively impact chances of conceiving) as well as throughout the pregnancy; since it is in the interests of proper fetal development as well as maternal health.
Studies have shown that stress during pregnancy can result in congenital brain malfunction of the fetus and that stress hormone cortisol can interfere with development of the fetal brain. Other research has revealed that severe emotional stress during pregnancy can leave the baby vulnerable mental disorders later in life.
Starting folic acid supplements
This is one of the most concrete things that a woman can do towards fetal brain development. As soon as she makes up her mind to try and get pregnant, she should start folic acid supplements; which are important for fetal development right from the time of conception. Soon after conception, the central nervous system starts to develop and if there is a folic acid deficiency, this development could be hampered resulting in problems such as spina bifida.
Proper nutrition and other supplements
It goes without saying that a pregnancy diet should be rich in natural foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grain and low in processed, chemically treated and preservative laden foods.
Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, iodine, multivitamins and so on can be considered if there a specific lack of these nutrients is noted because deficiencies of these nutrients could impair fetal brain development as well.