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03Sep 13

Boosting your baby’s brain development

It’s not simply the luck of the draw that some children are bright enough to go to Oxford or become an astronaut when they grow up. A baby’s brain begins to form within the third week of pregnancy, and there are certain things mums-to-be can do to boost your baby’s brain development, such as get enough rest, eat well, exercise moderately and avoid stress.

However, if you are working during pregnancy or are already a working mum with another on the way, these can be difficult tasks. A heavy workload is stressful enough, but paired with pregnancy side effects like swollen feet and sheer exhaustion, it can be a challenge to keep your stress levels in check. Takeaway lunches can also become a tricky balance of avoiding the wrong foods and including the right ones.

Boosting Your Baby's Brain Development

Boosting Your Baby’s Brain Development

Fish, Folic Acid and Protein

When it comes to your diet, be careful with fish, which can contain high mercury levels as well as parasites, viruses and bacteria that could harm your baby’s brain development. Avoid shark, swordfish and marlin as well as uncooked shellfish and sushi made from fish that was not frozen first.

On the plus side, fish contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein which are both vital for neurological development, so make sure that you pack an oily fish lunch of cooked salmon, sardines or herring a couple times a week. Check with your doctor before taking a fish oil supplement.

A daily dose of the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid is also important for brain development, so add a folic acid supplement to your menu and eat foods high in the stuff, such as kidney beans, avocado, sunflower seeds, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and wholemeal grains. When I was pregnant with my first son Rodger, I was lucky enough to crave avocados in addition to taking a daily folic acid supplement, so getting the proper amount of folic acid was a breeze!

Managing Stress

Keeping your stress levels down while expecting is no easy feat for working mums-to-be or second timers, but there are many options to help manage stress during pregnancy. Try deep-breathing exercises or take an after-work yoga class. Be aware of your limits, and do not be afraid to take a sick day to rest and recover from a particularly rough week at the office. And of course, stop smoking and drinking.

Regular moderate exercise, such as swimming or walking, can help you manage stress during pregnancy as well as aid your baby’s brain development. Just be careful not to overheat your body above a core temperature of 39 degrees – anything higher could lead to neurological defects for your baby.

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