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.

Senses

     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.


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