If you’re pregnant, you’ll probably hear countless words of advice about how to have a healthy pregnancy from your near and dear ones.
Even if you don’t get advice from people around you, you already know that following a healthy lifestyle while you’re pregnant can significantly improve the health and cognitive abilities of your baby.
From consuming healthy food for baby growth during pregnancy to doing a regular workout, there are many tips you can follow for a safe and healthy pregnancy.
For your convenience, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help boost a baby’s cognitive ability during pregnancy.
1. Practice Good, Healthy Habits
Needless to say, the more you focus on your health throughout your pregnancy, the better your little one’s health and cognitive abilities will be.
From eating healthy to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, make sure you keep your focus on body nourishment.
Take a diet that is rich in iron, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. We know it could be hard to resist your favorite junk food and snacks when you’re craving them the most. But, it is crucial to understand that what you consume will have a direct impact on your baby’s health and brain development.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Also, increase your water and milk intake to keep yourself hydrated.
2. Stay Active
We all know exercise and regular workout is essential for our physical and mental health. But did you know it can also help improve your baby’s cognitive ability during pregnancy?
No, you don’t have to buy an expensive treadmill or a runner to keep yourself fit during pregnancy. Even a relaxing 25-30 minutes walk in a cool or shaded area will do the trick.
You can also take help from online videos showcasing pregnancy exercises to do at home that can boost your blood circulation and mood.
Swimming, dancing, and yoga are also great activities for expecting mothers. However, it’s better if you seek expert advice first before adding any particular exercise to your workout regime.
According to the Scientific World Journal, “Regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy is beneficial both for the mother and for the infant…studies demonstrated that the aerobic exercise during pregnancy improves brain functions of the offspring.”
3. Try Stress-Reducing Activities
Chronic stress that continues for a long period of time can adversely impact your mental and physical health. But research suggests that high-stress levels can also affect your baby’s brain development during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, stress can also increase your odds of having a preterm baby who’s at a higher risk of developing brain malfunctions than full-term babies.
There are many things you can do to keep yourself relaxed and less stressed during pregnancy. For instance:
- You must eat regularly, sleep well, and keep yourself active during pregnancy
- Take help from massage, meditation, and workout
- Do things that you like to do
- Listen to music or read a book in your leisure time
- Avoid negative responses to stress. Try to cope with it positively
4. Talk To Your Baby
Talking to your unborn baby may improve word recognition and language skills of your child. Researchers have long known that a fetus can feel the heartbeat and sound of a mother.
So if you want to create a strong bond between you and your baby, talk to them as much as possible during pregnancy.
Talking to your baby while he is in a womb not only helps create a strong bond but also helps in the cognitive development, memory boosting, and language learning of your child down the road.
A London-based trust called Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation has also launched a womb song workshop a few years ago whose purpose was to encourage mothers to sing during their pregnancies.
Whether you read bedtime stories, sing songs, or simply show your love and affection for your little one in your womb, you’re contributing to boost his cognitive abilities and recognition skills.
5. Avoid Smoking And Alcohol
Maternal smoking and alcohol consumption has been linked with poor cognitive functions and behavioral disorders in infants.
These disorders range from personality disorders and neuropsychiatric issues such as ADHD and CD.
Alcohol is one of the leading causes of FAS and may also lead to lower IQs, memory disorders, attention deficits, and several types of motor function disorders.
Many studies have also shown that women who are exposed to nicotine or alcohol are at a higher risk of giving birth to a preterm baby.
All in all, smoking or drinking during pregnancy is highly prohibited and should be avoided at any cost to maintain the normal development and growth of your baby.
6. Get More Sleep
Insomnia is a common condition that affects more than 80% of pregnant women. Between on-and-off bathroom trips and hormonal changes, many women find it difficult to follow the same sleep pattern as they were following before getting a baby bump.
But staying well-rested and having a proper sleep routine is more important than ever when you’re expecting.
Things You Can Do To Sleep Well During Pregnancy
- Avoid caffeine and sugar-based desserts before sleeping
- Reduce your exposure to electronic devices/screens
- Take a relaxing bath before sleep
- Use soft and comfortable pillows
- Exercise regularly
Having a proper sleep routine will not only help boost your mood but will also strengthen your immune system and increase your chances of having an overall healthy pregnancy.
7. Play Music
According to research, listening to music during pregnancy will have a soothing effect on the pregnant woman and also improves the cognitive ability of the unborn baby.
The baby in your womb is able to hear sound from the third-trimester. Soft and soothing music and lullabies will ignite his brain development capabilities
A lot of research has also been done on the impact of a mother’s voice on the unborn baby. When a mother sings a song or reads aloud, it has a soothing effect on her baby.
8. Eliminate Toxins
Whether it’s cleaning supplies you have in your home or house paint, toxins aren’t good for anyone.
According to Robyn Horsager, Boehrer, MD, "Chemicals are in almost everything around us, from the dishes to pet care products to the air we breathe. While pregnant patients can and should avoid certain toxins, such as the chemicals and bacteria in deli meat and unpasteurized milk, it's impossible to avoid every potential exposure to toxins."
While this statement is quite scary, there are certain things you can do to keep yourself away from harmful toxins during your pregnancy.
For instance, you can limit your exposure to chemicals and day to day toxins by avoiding pet medications, smoking, and various cleaning products. Apart from that, pesticide toxicity has also proven to cause brain damage in children.
Altered brain development has also been linked with BPA. Similarly, the CDC also warns expecting moms to avoid eating spices from outside the US due to the possible presence of lead contamination.
9. Don’t Gain Too Much Weight
While it is good to have healthy and nutritious food during pregnancy, packing on too many pounds increases your risk of having a premature delivery.
There’s a strong link between premature births and IQ as babies born early do not get adequate nourishment and growth that the placenta provides.
So instead of keeping your focus on increasing quantity, try to include a healthy and balanced diet in your routine that can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.
10. Eat A Healthy Diet
What you eat can significantly impact your baby’s brain development and cognitive abilities. Eat lots of greens and fruits. Food rich in vitamins, nutrients, iron, and folic acid are important as all of these nutrients contribute to your baby’s brain development in one form or the other.
During pregnancy, 25%-30% of your daily food intake should consist of healthy fats. Fats present in fish have been found to help the development of brain tissues in your unborn baby.
But make sure your fish intake doesn’t exceed the recommended quantity as many types of fish contain mercury (we’re going to talk about this particular factor in the following section of this post).
11. Take Prenatal Vitamins
While it is always better to depend on natural foods instead of using medications during pregnancy, many times, it becomes hard for an expecting woman to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients from the diet alone.
Your baby’s neural cord is developed in the first trimester. This period is critical, and you have to ensure that you’re using all the right vitamins and minerals in the first few initial months.
Prenatal vitamins, including calcium, iron, and folic acid, are essential as they help form healthy brain cells and cognitive ability among unborn children.
12. Stay Hydrated
Your baby gets oxygen and other vital nutrients through the placenta. Staying hydrated during pregnancy can help support the blood circulation activity.
In addition, drinking more water can also help prevent nausea, constipation, and other common pregnancy symptoms.
You can even drop a few mint leaves and a slice of lemon in your water bottle to make it more refreshing.
13. Limit Your Fish Intake
We all know that fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and essential minerals and vitamins. However, mercury contamination in several types of fish can cause more harm than good for expecting mothers and babies.
Mercury, being neurotoxin in nature, can be dangerous for your baby’s brain and may lead to several birth defects.
The FDA advises pregnant women to avoid high mercury fishes like Shark, Marlin, King Mackerel, and Swordfish.
It’s also crucial to steer clear of fish caught in local waters as local lakes and rivers are polluted and contaminated with mercury and many other types of pollutants that are not healthy for your baby’s brain development and your overall health during pregnancy.
Feel free to eat salmon, white fishes, codfish, crabs, and tuna as they have low mercury levels and are safe to consume during pregnancy.
14. Eat Lots Of Fruits And Veggies
As mentioned earlier, you should consume a healthy diet during your pregnancy. Vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and iron should be used in moderation.
Avocados, berries, leafy greens, and other types of produce should make a huge portion of your daily diet. If you’re finding it difficult to consume them as it is, you can also make juices and smoothies out of them for added benefits.
15. The First 3-Years Is The Key Stage To Growth And Development
Last but not least, the first 3-years of a baby’s life is the key stage of brain development and growth. That is why it’s important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle after your pregnancy to help provide consistent support to your baby’s overall cognitive ability and brain development.