Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brain Rules for Baby: Pregnancy

Ok, so apparently it took me a few months to get back to this blog.  At first I was really busy preparing for my son's first birthday party (more on that to come) and then the morning/all day nausea and exhaustion of my pregnancy set in.  We are expecting baby #2 in early March and he or she has completely knocked me off my feet!  Thankfully, at nearly 20 weeks I am finally feeling better, wahoo!  Yay for the second trimester.  This pregnancy gives me even more of a reason to reflect on everything I read in Brain Rules for Baby:How to Raise and Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina.  I finished it back in May and now can't even remember all of the main points.  I'll blame it on the "pregnancy brain".  I'll be referencing my book as I recap and reflect.

To get started, there are five main sections of the book: pregnancy, relationship, smart baby, happy baby, and moral baby.  I will respond to each section at a time, copy the key points, and reflect on them.

Pregnancy: Brain Rule - Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

In the first half of pregnancy babies want to be left alone. 
Turns out that nausea and exhaustion I was having is likely due to the fact that our ancestors needed to avoid natural toxins in exotic or spoiled foods in the wild so the nausea kept them on a bland, boring diet and the exhaustion was to keep women from engaging in physical activity risky enough to harm the baby.  Basically, during that first half of pregnancy, your body and baby are doing whatever is needed to be "left alone" aka survive in the womb.  I'm excited to be leaving this part of my pregnancy.

Don't waste your money on products claiming to improve a preborn baby's IQ, temperament, or personality.  None of them have been proven to work.
With my first pregnancy I didn't bother with any of these products.  I didn't even think twice about them and won't this time either. However, although they are not proven to make any real change in the baby they could have an effect on the type of sensory information the baby is perceiving and processing.  Read on.

In the second half of pregnancy, babies begin to perceive and process a great deal of sensory information.
While reading, I was surprised by how much the author downgraded the prenatal products because although they might not improve any areas of the baby's development they are better than many of the other sensory information the baby could be taking in.  If I had to choose between my child listening to Mozart in the womb or the yelling from Teen Mom, I'll choose Mozart.  That being said I'm not going to hook up headphones to my belly with Mozart every single day. I will, however, be conscious that my baby will be picking up on all of this sensory information.  He or she can even smell the perfume I wear!  How cool is that??  Having a background in child development I was aware of this sensory information during my first pregnancy and was scared to death with the overload my baby would be getting while I was in my classroom all day.  I was teaching at a struggling school with a particularly difficult class.  At times, I had to raise my voice (yell) at the class and was constantly stressed throughout the day with all that I was expected to accomplish with my students.  I was worried what effect this would have on my sweet little boy inside.  I was so happy that summer break came right before I hit 8 months pregnant and my sensory-loving baby could enjoy his last few months in the womb in a more relaxed environment (aka my quiet house on the couch).  This time around I am excited because I am far more relaxed and always using my calm, nurturing voice with my toddler. During my first pregnancy I was always joking that my son wasn't going to recognize my voice when he came out because it would be sweet and loving and not that of a stressed out teacher going bananas. I feel like this little one is experiencing a much different mommy in the womb and that makes me happy.  Who knows if it makes a difference but what we do know is that once that second half of the pregnancy hits the baby is very aware of his or her environment.

Brain boosters at this stage: gaining the proper weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising moderately, and reducing stress.
This point just seemed obvious.  We all know that these things are going to help our baby's development.  The tricky part is following through with them.  Now that I don't want to barf when I see or smell vegetables, I am working hard on the balanced diet.  I've never been much of an exerciser however, what I can easily do this time is make sure to take a good 20-30 minute walk each day with my little man.  It can be as simple as that.  Finally, my stress this time is greatly decreased although I must admit I am way tireder this time around!  I know I can reduce my stress even more by going to bed earlier (which is exactly why I am heading to bed as soon as I hit publish!).  A 10pm bedtime is far better than a 12am one...especially when you have a toddler who likes to get up at 5:30am most morning.  If you are doing all of these things you'll naturally gain the proper weight when pregnant so that is not something to be concerned about.

Pregnancy WrapUp
Although I found this section to be an enjoyable read it really didn't tell me anything I didn't know already or bring any great incite to my thinking.  Fortunately, that was not the case for the remainder of the book so be sure to check back to read about the other sections.