Part 1: Pleasures and Perils of Pregnancy

So you find out you’re pregnant! You are ecstatic and a little voice inside your head tells you that you only have 9 months (in some cases even less) to brush up on the latest psychological theory on how to avoid turning your child into a psychopath. However your baby’s development starts way before that, in fact from the moment of conception every week is critical to your baby’s development.

In the first eight weeks the brain and spine are developing so you should pay particular attention to your health. By the eighth week the fetus (that’s what they call the baby before its out) is responding to touch. At 12 weeks the fetus is only 7cm long but it’s already beginning to show human form. The moment it really hits a mother (putting a side the ‘Alien’ like bulge appearing) is when the baby moves, usually 16 weeks into the pregnancy. You can start having meaningful conversations when the fetus is 5 months old because they can finally hear you. There is a lot of research that confirms that fetuses can hear in the womb. At 40 weeks, you should give birth to your fully developed baby.

If this is a planned pregnancy then you are in better shape to provide the best environment in the first three months. However it is essential that whenever you do find out you are pregnant, you need to change all those bad habits. The easiest thing to change is your diet. Remember that everything you are eating is going straight through to your baby so provide him with the healthiest diet you can (bearing in mind the strange cravings). There are certain things that need to be stopped all together, mainly alcohol, all types of drugs (including aspirin and prescribed medicines), nicotine and even caffeine. Alcohol and drugs can cause deformation in your baby or make them more susceptible to certain diseases, but worst is that he or she can be born with an addiction and then go through the pain of withdrawal symptoms as their first experience of the world. Smoking (i.e. nicotine) means that you are reducing the oxygen supply to your baby, which makes him or her at risk for lung problems and reduces their birth weight. The one you might not be aware of and for some may be the most difficult to give up (especially those that need that morning cup of coffee before they can make sense of the world) is caffeine. Ok in all honesty there is still contradictory research but since we’re dealing with your baby’s life and future I thought you should know any possible risk.

Unfortunately that’s not all, another biggie and the hardest to control is STRESS. All negative emotions can make the baby’s environment more irritating because of certain hormones that are secreted. If that doesn’t convince you then bear in mind that after birth, the baby may become more restless or fussy which is going to mean less sleep for you. As you can see pregnancy is not as simple as you thought, but before you get obsessive keep in mind that you are trying to give your baby the best start that you can and nobody expects perfection.

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