Weeks 37 to 40 mark the final month of pregnancy. How does your developing baby prepare his brain and body for the day of his delivery?
In your ninth month of pregnancy, your developing baby is busy preparing for life outside the womb. He continues to develop his brain functions and undergo physical changes at this point, but he will still be relying on you for all his nutritional needs.
Your developing baby’s brain continues to develop
Your developing baby is working hard at developing his brain as much as he can. During these last few weeks, his brain continues to make the connections that will support his cognitive development in the future.1
This means that in this final trimester, your developing baby will have an increased need for omega-3 and omega-6 fats, such as DHA and ARA, which are essential for healthy eyes and brain development.2,3
You can help your developing baby reach his developmental milestones and give him valuable nutrients from a well-balanced diet. Nutrients such as DHA can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Choline is another important nutrient that supports his brain development, including memory skills4 – so stock up on milk, eggs and beans.5
Your diet should also be well balanced with a variety of foods from different food groups. Make sure you are including lean meat, grains, legumes and soy products in your daily meals. A nutritious diet also helps your body recover and repair itself after you give birth6, ensuring that you are in the best shape to enjoy those first moments with your developing baby.
What else is your developing baby doing in the final moments?
Besides the brain, other changes are happening to your developing baby’s body. For example, you may feel that your developing baby has moved down into your pelvis – that’s your developing baby getting his body ready to see the world as he shifts into the fetal position.
When he moves downwards into the fetal position with his head down and his arms and legs pulled against his chest, that’s his preparation for the big event! At this stage, the bones in his head are soft and flexible. This makes it easier for him to move through your birth canal, if you have a natural birth.
After all, your developing baby is not so little anymore! At this final stage of pregnancy, your developing baby should now weigh around seven pounds (3.1 kilograms), and he’s making the most of these last few weeks in the womb to grow as much as he can.
Your developing baby’s future milestones
As the third trimester comes to an end, you will probably be both excited and anxious, especially if you don’t have a set delivery date and appointment with the hospital. But don’t worry! Your developing baby's birth date might be a surprise, but make sure that your arrangements have been made in advance, such as having your bag packed for the hospital.
There is much in the future to prepare for. You have been doing so well, and even up to the last month, you were already passing antibodies in your blood to your developing baby to help protect him from illnesses. Revisit how you made sure he would be protected and to track how far both of you have come since month 8 of your pregnancy
. You should be really proud of the both of you!
And when the big moment arrives, along with labor contractions that may be painful, remember to practice breathing slowly and try as much as you can to relax.
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2Innis SM. Dietary (n-3) fatty acids and brain development. J Nutr 2007;137:855-859.
3Uauy, Ricardo, and Alan D. Dangour. Nutrition in brain development and aging: role of essential fatty acids. Nutrition reviews 2006; 64 (suppl 2): S24-S33.
4Zeisel SH. Nutrition importance of choline for brain development. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23 (6 Suppl):621S-626S.
5US Department of Agriculture. Dietary Intakes of Choline. Downloaded from http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400530/pdf/DBrief/9_choline.... Accessed on October 2015.
6MedlinePlus, US National Institutes of Health. Eating right during pregnancy. Downloaded from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000584.htm. Accessed on October 2015.