You are pregnant! Congratulations! This is such an exciting time, scary time, short time, long time, special time! But most of all it is a time when you are quite frankly a SUPERWOMAN! You are not only growing a baby, but you are also growing a brain and a person! That’s quite a thought!

Pregnant Tummy

It’s not really surprising that you might be quite tired!

Your baby is developing at a massive rate. They are growing everything they will need to start their life including their brain. Over the 9 months, your baby is in the womb they will grow over 1000 billion neurons. Each neuron connects with one another and forms a complex network of communication. Scientist class the brain as the most complex biological system in the body!

Your baby’s brain begins actually begins developing in the 3rd week of your pregnancy. (Isn’t that amazing?!) It starts off by forming what is called, a neural plate through rapidly multiplying cells. This is the foundation of your baby’s brain and eventually goes on to become the fore brain, the mid brain, the hindbrain and the spinal cord.

When your baby is only 5 weeks old, it starts developing neurons. These are the information processing cells that send signals throughout the nervous system. These continue to form and divide and multiply. At it’s most active, your baby is creating 250,000 neurons a minute. These neurons are sent around your baby’s brain. They take on specific roles such as understanding sound, creating and storing memories. This all happens around the middle of the second trimester. At the same stage, the area of the brain that is associated with higher thinking functions, such as language and abstract thought is also developing. It is in fact, actually growing faster than other parts of the brain’s structures. By the time you are 7 months pregnant, this part of your baby’s brain holds up to 70% of all the neurons that your baby has created!

During the last trimester, your baby’s brain will triple in weight. This weight helps to develop the parts of the brain that are important for producing speech, interpreting sights and sounds, distinguishing language, remembering and thinking. It is also helping to develop the parts of the brain that are responsible for motor control, movement.

The brain experiences huge growth during pregnancy. It will remain 'plastic' or changeable throughout life. The early stages of development are crucial and can have lifelong effects. Brains are not just built through genes, though these are important. Brains are also built by experiences. Human brains are built in the context of relationships and interaction. The more interaction and stimulation a baby has, the stronger their neural connections become. With responsive, interactive adults the baby’s brain becomes stronger. It becomes ready for future learning and development. A child who is stimulated through language, eye to eye contact, responsive body language and interesting activities and children who are brought up in caring and secure environments will go on to be more ready for school, more ready to learn and more ready to face the challenges of life.

You can impact your baby's development before they are born!

You can even start doing activities with your bump before they are even born! You can read to them, this not only gives you a chance to sit down and relax, but it builds a culture of reading aloud. This is really beneficial for your baby once they are born to help them learn language and develop a love of reading. If you get your partner to read to the bump, they also, are beginning to build a bond with the baby before they are even born. Amazingly, once your baby is born, they will recognise voices that they have heard often and feel more bonded and closer to them than other voices.

Listening to the baby

There are other things you can do as well. You can sing to your baby; you might want to try to remember the nursery rhymes that you sung as a child. Does your partner know different ones to you? Singing to your baby slows down the vowel sounds in language and helps your baby hear them! Tell your bump about your day, or your partner can tell them about their day. They may not respond, but they will love hearing your voices and it will bring you all one step closer to becoming the family you are about to be!

If you would like more activities to do with your bump before they are born why not download the Oliiki app? In it, you will find an activity a day to do with your bump for the whole of your pregnancy. We not only tell you what to do, but also how what you are doing relates to your baby’s future life learning. The activities build to a library of age appropriate things to do with or for your bump. This gives you a confident start to your baby’s learning journey.