7 Tips to Boost Your Baby’s Brain Development During Pregnancy
Throughout your pregnancy, you will hear countless words of advice and “supported medical facts” from your friends and family. It’s tiresome. Does anyone actually know what they’re saying? Why are your two best friends contradicting each other? Who’s right? Is anyone right?!
With all of the words of advice pouring out around you, it’s nice to stumble upon trustworthy information. This is especially true when talking about something as serious as the development of your baby and how to boost and support it.
That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips on how to boost your baby’s brain development during pregnancy. Enjoy!
1. Nourish Your Body
As a rule of thumb, the better your health is throughout your pregnancy, the better your baby’s will be. Make sure to practice good, healthy habits by eating well, gaining a healthy weight, and taking supplemental vitamins.
What to Eat
Maintaining a healthy diet is important whether you’re pregnant or not, but key nutrients that come from whole foods are essential in your baby’s brain development.
Focus on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy grains and fats. Everyone gets pregnancy cravings, but it’s important to avoid processed food as much as possible. Since cravings are said to be a sign of mineral deficiencies, pay attention to your body and give it what it needs.
Don’t worry too much though… the occasional unhealthy craving isn’t going to drop your baby’s IQ.
Sometimes it will be hard to get all of the vitamins your body needs from foods alone. Luckily, prenatal vitamins are here to save the day. Talk to your doctor for help finding a vitamin that is easily absorbed, and has the following:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid
Chances are you’ve heard of folic acid. It doesn’t matter if you started taking it once you got pregnant or before, just keep going. Getting enough folic acid helps form healthy brain cells, prevents autism, and decreases the chances of birth defects in your baby. Get folic acid from these foods or by taking a supplement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This vitamin present in many super foods has been shown to have a positive affect on your baby’s brain development. In fact, in a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, women who ate an increased amount of fish (a great source of omega-3s) during their second trimester had babies who scored higher on their mental-development tests at 6 months.
Get your fix by increasing your weekly servings of fish or taking a fish oil supplement. Just be mindful of mercury levels. Here’s a great list of safe, pregnancy-approved low mercury fish.
This is an important aspect to talk about since it’s not uncommon in our daily lives to take medication. However, certain medications have been linked to ADHD, birth defects, autism, anxiety, and other developmental issues. Talk to your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the counter medication.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
You should gain about 15-40lbs during your pregnancy depending on your starting weight. Talk to your doctor for individualized information and check out this helpful breakdown to learn more.
Water is essential to all living things, including your developing baby. Thus, it’s no surprise that pregnant women need to stay hydrated to boost fetal brain development. Every body is different so instead of counting ounces, focus on getting enough water so your urine is the color of watered-down lemonade colored.
Exercise is good for your body, both physically and mentally. The endorphins released when you exercise boosts your mood and overall sense of wellbeing while reducing brain shrinkage and enhancing cognitive function. When you exercise, these benefits actually pass down to your baby. Only about 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-5 times a week is all you need for both of you to reap the benefits.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
If you’ve never exercised before, don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere. Focus on moderate exercises that don’t have a high risk of injury – a.k.a. avoid high contact sports (obviously) and don’t jump into something you’re not ready for.
Start with these pregnancy-approved exercises or at the very least, get outside and go for a brisk walk!
Find a Workout Buddy
Everything is easier when you have a partner and exercising is no different. Find a workout buddy and make a schedule. You’ll be less likely to bail on your daily exercises if it also means letting down a friend.
If you’re not one for creativity, or simply need that extra push of motivation, check out classes that are offered in your town. Not only will you find a great pregnancy class, you’ll also make some new friends along the way.
Don’t Forget to Rest
When exercising your body, rest is crucial. Don’t push yourself too hard and remember to take a few rest days here and there, especially if you’ve been going above and beyond during your workouts. Pamper yourself and enjoy a candle-lit bubble bath after a long week of classes or pregnancy strength training.
3. Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress is no good in life, but did you know that it actually has an adverse effect on your baby’s brain development? There are numerous studies that have been done that suggest stress during pregnancy may increase the risk of congenital brain malfunctions in babies.
Relax and try to avoid any major life changes during your pregnancy. To help promote a sense of calmness, try these great stress-reducing activities.
4. Talk to Your Baby
If you really want to make an impact on your baby’s development, talk to them every day. While this may feel a bit strange at first, you’ll be having full-blown conversations in no time. Talking to your baby while they’re in the womb helps their mental development and allows them to get insider’s access to their mom’s voice.
All of these conversations won’t go unnoticed. When you talk to your baby in the womb, you create a strong foundation for social and emotional development, as well as a boost in language skills and memory down the road.
5. Play Music
We’ve all heard the rumors that playing Mozart to babies during pregnancy turns them into the next Einstein, but is it true? While it might not boost IQ levels, it will help your baby learn new sounds, tones, and produce a calming effect.
6. Avoid Toxins
Toxins aren’t good for anyone, much less for a fragile developing baby. While your placenta will help filter out toxins, there’s only so much it can do. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to avoid levels of toxins that will negatively impact your baby’s brain development.
- Avoid prolonged close proximity to cleaning supplies
- Make sure your home is painted with lead-free paint
- Limit exposure to traffic-related air pollutants
- Foster an overall healthy environment in your home
While you should go the extra mile to protect your baby from outside toxins, please don’t get paranoid or stress too much about things you can’t change. Remember, stress is no good so just do your best.
7. Never Smoke or Drink
This one should be a given. Never, ever smoke or drink while pregnant.
Nicotine constricts blood vessels and reduces the blood flow and nutrition to your baby as well as interferes with the development of crucial cognitive brain cells.
Alcohol not only causes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), but also leads to an overall poor brain fetal brain development. In fact, drinking during pregnancy leads to lower IQs, attention spans, poor cognitive skills and memory, attention deficits, impulsive behavior, and even motor function disabilities.
Smoking and drinking during pregnancy just isn’t worth it. If you need help quitting before pregnancy, reach out to a doctor, specialist, or someone you trust today.
We hope these tips help you have a better understanding of how to boost your baby’s brain development during pregnancy. As a general rule of thumb, the most important thing is to live a healthy lifestyle. If you’re worried about your health or stress levels, talk to your primary care doctor to see what you can do today. It’s also a great idea to get your partner up to speed with this information so they’ll understand how to be supportive throughout your pregnancy. If you want more great pregnancy tips, information, and product reviews, head over to our website. Find your perfect breast pump at Byram Healthcare. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all of our pumps are covered through your insurance provider!
If you have any other tips for expecting mothers, comment on our Facebook page! We love building our community of supporting moms!