How does your developing baby’s brain develop?
It might seem a little confusing, but your developing baby’s development is measured either by weeks, or months, which are divided into trimesters.
Gestational age is the term used to describe how far along the pregnancy is. It is measured in weeks, from the first day of the woman's last menstrual cycle to the current date. A normal pregnancy can range from 38 to 42 weeks1.
Beginning this process, during the first two and three weeks of pregnancy, is the development of the neural tube – an important groove-like structure that will eventually transform into your developing baby’s brain, spinal cord, nervous system and backbone.
By week six, the left and right hemispheres of your developing baby’s brain start to become distinct. But it’s not just the brain that is taking shape; by the end of the second month, your developing baby is developing his heart and circulatory system. That means his heart starts to beat inside of you – in fact, your developing baby’s heart beats two times faster than your own!
How do you help support your developing baby’s progress?
Fish are extremely valuable sources of DHA, but during your pregnancy, avoid fish and shellfish that contain high levels of mercury, as too much of it can potentially harm your developing baby’s nervous system. In general, older and larger fish contain more mercury, so avoid foods like swordfish, shark and tilefish.5
The sense of touch is the first of the five senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch – to develop. Your developing baby will develop his sense of touch around the fifth and sixth week of your pregnancy.
What does your developing baby look like?
In the meantime, these six weeks have been a period of hard work for both of you. No wonder one of the earliest signs of pregnancy is the fact you’re feeling tired5. With all these changes, your developing baby will have grown to more than half an inch or slightly over one centimeter long. That’s about the size of the nail on your thumb – an impressive first milestone!
2Innis SM. Dietary (n-3) fatty acids and brain development. J Nutr 2007;137:855-859.
3Uauy, Ricardo, and Alan D. Dangour. Nutrition in brain development and aging: role of essential fatty acids. Nutrition reviews 2006; 64 (suppl 2): S24-S33.
4American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. FAQ001 Nutrition during pregnancy. Downloaded from http://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq001.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20151020T0906455547. Accessed on October 2015.