MONTH SEVEN: Your baby now responds to external stimuli like sound, light and even pain. The reserves of body fat are increasing and you will now notice that your baby is gaining weight rapidly. He is now about 14 inches long.
MONMTH EIGHT: The baby is now almost fully developed but the lungs are still immature. The baby has gained strength and you will feel much stronger kicks and movements. This is also the time for rapid brain development. Your baby is now about 18 inches long.
MONTH NINE: The baby is now fully developed and starts descending into the pelvis in preparation for birth. The space in the uterus is very confined and you may feel less intense movements now. Your baby is about 20 inches long.
There’s no doubt that being pregnant is a new beginning and experience. Besides growing physically, your baby is also undergoing rapid brain development in the womb. Did you know that the earliest brain wave activity can be recorded as early as 21 days? This means that if there is brain wave activity, then your baby will have feelings, emotions, understanding and even memories.
Here are a few interesting facts about how the human brain develops:
● The brain is dynamic—environment plays a crucial role.
● At five months, cerebral hemispheres are smooth. At nine months they look like the two halves of a walnut.
● In the third trimester, the brain folds in on itself to increase the surface area.
● In the third trimester the DHA content of the fetal brain increases by about three to five times.
When your baby is in the womb, a 1,00,000 new nerve cells are created in the brain every minute. At birth, the baby has about 100 billion nerve cells. Nerve cells that are formed during development in the womb do not age and die like other cells in the body.
So what actually aids brain development? First and foremost, remember that the baby can hear sounds from the outside. The mother’s voice and other familiar sounds are being heard by the baby. He develops a familiarity with these sounds and post birth, can identify with the same. He also starts picking up language skills in the womb, especially in the last trimester. Not actual words and sentences but sounds, accents, etc. are part of his understanding.
The second important factor is the mother’s stress levels. When an expectant mother is stressed and anxious, the stress hormones in her blood are higher and can fl ow to the baby. When an expectant mother is relaxed and happy, positive hormones which flow to the baby. Research has shown that stressed moms give birth to babies who are more stressed, and this can be seen in a newborn’s feeding and sleeping patterns.
The third important aspect is the mother’s diet during pregnancy. Remember, the baby feeds off of the mother. He will develop feeding habits, various tastes, and develop metabolism, which helps reduce the risk of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, all while in the womb. A baby will kick, stretch, plays with the umbilical cord, sucks his thumb, blink and a lot more. Twins hug, kick, touch and play with each other. All of these rely on your baby’s brain function and development. And a healthy development relies on a mother’s health and happiness. After all, the mother’s environment is the baby’s environment. ■
M&B’s panellist Sonali Shivlani is an Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a child nutrition counsellor. She is the executive director of CAPPA India, and also trains aspiring birth professionals to achievec rtification in pregnancy, birth and lactation counselling.
If you have any concerns related to pregnancy, birth and the post-delivery period, Sonali Shivlani will answer all your questions through her column. Do send in your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org