Wednesday, December 23, 2015

[Brain Rules for Baby] Post 3

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3 Brain Rules

1.  Happy marriage happy baby,
2.  The brain seeks safety above all, and
3.  What is obvious to you is obvious to you.

"The baby takes. The parent gives. End of story."

     Raising baby is hard. The baby cries and you don’t know why. Just when you think you know, and you try to do what’s right, the baby cries again. You almost don’t get enough sleep or private life. Your relationship deteriorates in the first year after baby was born. The relationship tends to deteriorate until the baby has grown up and left home. Yet, you will have to keep good relationship with your spouse, because hostility inhibits baby’s brain development.

Four source of marital conflicts

  1. Sleep loss: After birth, babies don’t have eating and sleeping schedule like you. This lack of schedule persists for months. Soon, the good will towards your spouse disappears.
  2. Social isolation: After the birth of a child, the couple have about one third time alone together. In fact, they have about 90 minutes per day to contact with other adults.

    “The thrill of having a child wears off. But the incessant job of parenting does not. Being a mom or dad becomes a duty then a chore."

    Females secrete oxitoson to relieve their own stress. Oxitosol induces the feeling of friendship, trust and calm. It also stimulates lactation.
  3. Unequal workload: Women perform a lot more on house chore and child care. The load is as much as, if not more than, what men do at work. So, men, you shouldn’t complain that your wife does not bring home bread!
  4. Depression: Women experience sadness after giving birth. This feeling quickly disappears for more women. If not treated, this feeling could be passed down to the children.

Observant Babies

“Children have never been good at listening to their parent. But, they have never failed to imitate them.”
     Babies are constantly observing you. They learn constantly. They assess whether it is safe for them and develop their brain accordingly. If parent is constantly fighting, the babies are inescapably affected.

“Babies create hypotheses, test them, and then relentlessly appraise their findings with the vigor of a seasoned scientist. This means infants are extraordinary delightful, surprisingly aggressive learners. They pick up everything."

Stressful Babies

     Babies react to stress by entering ‘flight or fight’ mode. But mostly, it would be flight. Humans would try to get out of harm. Our brain releases two hormones: Epinephrine (i.e., Adrenaline) and Cortisol (i.e., stress hormone). In the first year of a baby, these two hormones shapes the future of the baby. If the environment is safe and stable, children will be emotionally stable. If the babies constantly experiences angry and violent environment, they will be hyper-reactive. This happens when parent constantly fights each other. If they are constantly ignored, they will be under-reactive.
     Babies experiencing stress will have difficultly responding to positive stimuli, calming themselves, and dealing with stress. Stress hormone can also interfere with bone development. Some babies under great stress might not develop their legs properly.  Years after, these children tend to have bad grades at school, drug problems, premature pregnancy, and high chance for divorce.


        The components of empathy include detection of emotional change, absorption of such the feeling and try to see what oneself would react, and realise that that such feeling belongs to oneself not to the other. Empathy helps in marriage.

“One of the reasons empathy works so well is because it does not require a solution. It requires only understanding."

Make Empathy Your Reflex

     When you see an emotional change in the others

  1. Describe the emotion of the other you see.
  2. Make a guess of where that emotion came from

Key Points

  1. - More than 80% of couples see a drop in relationship during a transition to be parent.
  2. - Hostility between a couple can harm brain development system of newborn babies.
  3. - Empathy reduces hostility.
  4. - The source of marital conflicts are sleep loss, social isolation, unequal workload, and depression.

      Wednesday, December 16, 2015

      [Brain Rules for Baby] Post 2: Pregnancy

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      Three Brain Rules

      1. Baby develops active mental life in the womb.
      2. Stress mom. Stress Baby.
      3. Eat right, stay fit, get lots of pedicure.

      “If I were to give a single sentence of advice based on what we know about in uteral development during first half of pregnancy, it would be this. The baby wants to be left alone, at least at first."

      Leave the Baby Alone

      The womb is like a bomb shelter from the baby. And, it needs to be. So leave it like that. Don’t try to play Mozart CD right into the belly so that the baby can hear it.

      A Neural Tube

      A neural tube forms a spine of a baby. One end of a neural tube will become baby’s butt while the other will become baby’s brain. A lot of books recommends talking Vitamin B  and Folic Acid during early pregnancy. Women who take these are 76% less likely to create fetus with defective neural tube.
      “Mom’s body appears to have a fail-safe component. If something goes wrong during development, her body often sends troubles and deliberately induces a miscarriage."

      Brain Cell Types

      There are two types of cells in a brain. One is Gleo which is a Greek for Glue. It gives brain structure. Another is neuron. Neurons contribute to about 10%, which is inline with what we say that we only use 10% of our brain.

      Brain Development

           Neurogenesis is a process which turns embryonic cells into neuron cells. It does so at the rate of 8,000 neurons per second. This happens at the first half of pregnancy, exactly when the baby needs to be left alone. In the second half, the neurons move into the right place and connect to each other during the process called 'synaptic genesis'. The process is very complex and takes very long time to complete. Most people do not complete this process before the age of 20. Brain is an organ that takes the longest time to complete. Note that the name synaptic genesis comes from synapse which the the space between neurons. Our brain also rapidly develops. It creates about 10 billion synapses per day until about 1 year after birth.
            As the development move into the second half, the process changes from mostly neurogenesis to mostly synaptic genesis. It is now, when baby starts to response to external stimuli.


           Baby can sense and remember what he/she senses when being in the womb. But the senses develop in sequence. Baby starts sensing touch by 4 weeks. By week 12, all the skin can sense touch. But you have to wait till the fifth month before the baby develops a body map—the sense of which part of the body is which—and the sense of touch is perceivable.
           Human develops sensing organ prior to the knowledge of how to use them. At the fourth week, the fetus starts developing visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste. But they are not attached to our brain, and our brain hasn't been developed to the point that we can preserve these senses. Not until the third trimester that the brain connects to these organ. At this period, the baby starts to perceive senses the way we do, and be able to command movement.
           So, the baby can sense while in the womb. If the baby listens or smell something, he or she will remember and express preference towards those things after birth. For olfactory, this is referred to as 'olfactory labeling'. The baby tends to remember the scent of the perfumes his or her mother wears. The smell of tends to calm down the baby since it reminds the baby of his or her previous home. As for taste, what you eat also affect taste preference of your baby. This is known as ‘Flavor Programming.'

      Four Things You Could Do

      1. Weight: Gain weight moderately. Brain size of your baby is proportional to mom’s weight. Baby with more weight up to 8 pounds will have higher IQ. But gaining weight more than 9 pounds will decrease baby’s IQ, possibly because less Oxygen could be deliver to your baby. For mom with Body Mass Index (BMI) 25-29.9 should gain 15-25 pounds. Mom with BMI less than 18.5 should gain 28-40 pounds.
      2. Nutrition: What you crave is usually not what your baby needs. So, you should eat in balance, leaning towards vegetable and fruit. Iron is important for brain development. Two supplements that you should take are Folic Acid (during conception) and Omega 3. Omega 3 helps create membrane of neurons. You can get Omega 3 from fish especially fatty one. Eat 12 ounces of fatty fish per week and avoid long-live predator fish which could get Mercury from the water.
      3. Stress: Small stress motivates baby to move around. But toxic stress hormone (e.g., Cortisol) include 1) chronic stress, 2) severe stress, and 3) stress that is too much for you.  It could reach the baby and result in the followings after birth
        • Be irritable and less consolable
        • Have lower IQ
        • Limit motor skill, attention and ability to concentrate
        • Shrink size of your baby’s brain
      4. Exercise: Exercise helps in laboring. Fit women have to push in the second stage of pregnancy for 27 minutes, while unfit women has to push for almost an hour. Less time for pushing implies less chance of Oxygen deprivation which can damage the brain of your baby. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, could reduce stress that will enter your baby’s brain, inhibiting baby’s brain development. Fit mom gives birth to smart babies. However, strenuous exercise can shut down blood flow to your womb, inhibiting brain development of your babies. Swimming is a good one, since it also dissipate the heat from your womb. Do ‘Moderate Regular Aerobic Exercise”. Keep your heart rate at less than 70% of its maximum rate for most women, which is 220 beats/min minus your age. You might slow down your exercise as the due date is getting close.

      Four Key Points

      1. In the first half of pregnancy, babies mostly want to be left alone.
      2. Do not waste your money for products promise to boost your baby’s IQ, temperament, or personality.
      3. During the second half of pregnancy, babies connect to their sensing device. They can hear smell, see, taste, and feel a touch.
      4. Mom can help her baby in four ways: Proper weight gain, proper diet, stress avoidance, and proper exercise.