There’s a lot you can do for your baby (and yourself) even before delivery:
- Read and talk to your baby. No matter what you say, your developing baby can hear you! Your baby may already be memorizing words you say – to use later on.
- Reduce stress. A pregnant mom’s stress can be harmful to the baby’s brain development and sometimes lead to premature birth.
- Exercise during your pregnancy. Moms who exercise develop larger placentas. Larger placentas are more able to carry oxygen and nutrients, while taking waste products out.
- Take prenatal vitamins. These vitamins, which have folic acid, help prevent damage to your baby’s brain and spinal cord. They’re also great for your baby’s brain development.
- Eat a pregnancy diet – with protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin C. Include foods (like flax seeds and walnuts) that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain power. Make sure you’re also getting enough DHA – which is present in oily fish, a few other foods, and some supplements.
- See your health care provider while you’re pregnant. Your provider can help answer questions you have, track your baby’s growth, and check for any problems that may be developing. Click on the image for information on prenatal appointments – what to have checked and when.
- Don’t smoke, drink, take drugs, or have caffeine (which is in coffee, some soda, and dark chocolate). All of these substances can damage your developing baby. NDQuits (1.800.QUIT.NOW) has a lot of free options to help people quit smoking. FirstLink (2-1-1) has info on programs that can help people quit drinking or using.
While you get ready for your baby to be born, there are lots of decisions – what to name your child, whether to circumcise, whether to breastfeed (highly recommended), and more. There are many views on these decisions, including circumcision, and it’s worth thinking through the options.