Development of Baby Brain –
As you may know, the brain and neural systems direct all functions and voluntary and involuntary activities of the body. The course of foetal brain development is fascinating as it starts as early as when the baby is still a tiny embryo, when you may not even be aware of your pregnancy. The various stages of brain development in a baby are explained below-
During the First Trimester
A few weeks after the conception, the embryo forms the neural plate of the foetus. This rudimentary structure eventually develops into the brain and spinal cord of the baby. The first trimester sees rapid foetal brain development, with cells differentiating for their eventual functions. 4 to 5 weeks into pregnancy, the neural plate elongates and folds onto itself forming a neural tube. The bulging part of the neural tube later develops into the three portions of the brain- forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain, while the rest of the part further elongates to become the spinal cord.
Eventually, the five regions of the brain develop – cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, pituitary gland and hypothalamus. These distinct parts are not fully developed in the first trimester.
At this stage, the first interactions between neurons appear and the foetus shows synapses. Hence, the baby may make tiny indistinct movements that may go undetected by the mother.
During the Second Trimester
In the second trimester, the brain structure and functions develop significantly. The brain can now control the functions and movements of the body. It can now control breathing by directing steady contractions of the diaphragm and chest muscles. Motor control of the brain is more pronounced in the second trimester, hence, the baby becomes more active. You may experience the baby kicking, stretching and moving inside the womb.
The nerves cells become covered in the myelin sheath, which is an insulating layer that facilitates the rapid transmission of electrical impulses. Hence, this stage is also marked with reflex movement development of the baby such as sucking and blinking. The baby can now swallow the amniotic fluid. The nervous system, too, is developed, so the baby can detect the noises from outside. Around this time, the brain develops a sleep pattern and it structurally resembles an adult brain.
During the Third Trimester
The brain development rate is highest in the third trimester. More and more grooves are formed on the brain’s surface and its weight also increases. The cerebellum of the brain undergoes the fastest growth than any other brain structure. Since the cerebellum is responsible for motor skills and controlling voluntary movements, the baby’s activity increases substantially. You can very distinctly feel the baby wiggling, punching or kicking inside the womb. In fact, the movements can get surprisingly strong.
You should monitor the baby’s movements to map brain development. You can go for prenatal screening to ensure that the baby’s brain is developing satisfactorily. It can also help identify any disorder or abnormalities at the earliest stage. This helps you begin treatment on time.