Month 4 sees developments in your developing baby’s cognitive and visual faculties
It’s a big month for your developing baby, as he’s developing his brain and sense of sight. Between weeks 15 to 18 of your pregnancy, your developing baby’s visual cortex is forming, although at this stage his vision is a little fuzzy. His eyesight won’t actually become clear and sharp. At the same time, the lateral fissure, a distinctive groove in the brain’s cerebral cortex, develops. This area will eventually become responsible for his memory, language skills and even consciousness.
At around 16 weeks of your pregnancy, your developing baby’s brain is developing around 100 million neurons to support his visual senses. Even at this early stage, his retina may become sensitive to bright light1.
How do you help nurture your developing baby’s sense of sight?
Since your developing baby is relying on you for all his nutrition, you can help nurture his developing brain and eyes by eating a well-balanced diet with essential nutrients such as DHA, an omega-3 fat.
Experts recommend that women should eat around 200 mg of DHA each day, during pregnancy2. A great source of DHA is fish, including salmon and sardines. Alternatively, flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and leafy green vegetables also contain DHA, although at much lower levels than fish. All of these foods contribute to the normal development of your developing baby’s brain and eyes3.
There are also convenient snacks that are good brain foods. Try munching on a handful of nuts between meals or when you are busy. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, magnesium, vitamin E, and B vitamins, and they’re good for you too. Research has shown that eating a handful of nuts as a snack can lower heart-disease risk by 35%4.
Did you know?
Your developing baby is starting to grow hair – and not just on his head. This soft downy hair is called lanugo, and it’s even growing on his face and body. Don’t worry, it disappears either shortly before, or after he is born.
What else does your developing baby discover this month?
At this month’s ultrasound appointment, you’ll be able to see your developing baby’s heart beating and can discern those tiny fingers and toes, arms and legs. You’ll even be able to make out the brain and spinal cord, and chances are – if you don’t already know – you’ll be able to discover your developing baby’s gender.
You might be able to tell from your ultrasound how fast your developing baby is growing! At this stage, he is already around five inches (12.7 centimeters) long and weighs close to four ounces (113 grams) – about the size of an avocado. He’s also developing a sense of touch and is even brushing up against the wall of your uterus as he moves around exploring his environment.
You might even feel some early movement at this phase, as your developing baby holds onto his umbilical cord, sucks his thumb and even kicks – all part of exploring his sense of touch.
Next month, your developing baby starts to recognize your voice as he develops his sense of hearing. To find out how to help support the development of his aural senses, read more about pregnancy stages: month 5
Missed out on last month’s pregnancy milestones? You can track how far you and your developing baby have come in pregnancy stages: month 3
Fish are good sources of DHA. Discover a quick and easy fish recipe for your developing baby and you.
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2The March of Dimes. Omega-3 fatty acids. Downloaded from http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/omega-3-fatty-acids.aspx. Accessed on October 2015.
4Kris-Etherton, Penny M., et al. The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of coronary heart disease: multiple potential mechanisms. J Nutr 2008; 138(9):1746S-1751S.