3 Ways to Boost Baby’s Brainpower Before Birth

Hint: Self care is extra-important in pregnancy.
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profile picture of Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE
Contributing Writer
November 18, 2013
Illustration of animated brains, dancing, lifting weights and moving.
Image: iStock

When you’re carrying baby during pregnancy, you might not be thinking a lot about their future IQ score. Well, it turns out that there’s actually some practical steps you can take to create a healthy environnment for baby’s brain to develop in utero. While these tips won’t necessarily turn your newborn into a child prodigy, The Bump has some research-backed advice about how to nuture their noggins.

1. Eat well and take your vitamins

Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are important for fetal brain development. You can get your DHA by eating two to three servings per week of low-mercury fish such as salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, shrimp or catfish. Other vitamins and minerals that affect baby’s brain grown in utero are vitamin D and Zinc. Be sure to take a complete prenatal multivitamin to get plenty of these essential nutrients.

2. Exercise regularly throughout pregnancy

Add this to the many reasons you should exercise at least 20 minutes a day while pregnant: A new study showed that regular prenatal exercise actually boosts baby’s brain development. After measuring activity levels of 60 women throughout pregnancy and then measuring brain activity of their newborns, researchers discovered that babies born to mothers who exercised at least 20 minutes a day showed more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains had developed more rapidly.

3. Try to avoid a Cesarean

Interestingly, a study published by the Yale School of Medicine showed that vaginal childbirth triggers the expression of a protein in newborn brains that improves brain function. The study found that expression of that same protein is inhibited in babies born by c-section, which led researchers to believe that these findings might be one more reason to avoid Cesareans that aren’t medically necessary. Staying active and fit during pregnancy helps reduce your risk of medical interventions.

Need help getting started? Try these great prenatal workouts to help meet your daily exercise requirement.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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