To examine the relationship between maternal behaviours and foetal development, this researcher aims at first identifying what is meant by ‘maternal behaviours’ and ‘foetal development’. secondly, examining these behaviours specifically maternal smoking, stress and anxiety, alcohol consumption, maternal infections and nutrition and their effects on the developing foetus and lastly, to conclude this paper with an outline of some of the many roles an expecting mother is expected to play in order to ensure the healthy wellbeing of her developing foetus.
Maternal behaviours and foetal development
Maternal behaviour is defined as behavioural patterns associated with or characteristic of a mother.
According to this definition, foetal development is “The process in which a human embryo or foetus gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth”. (Moore)
Contrary to ancient believes, the healthy development of a foetus not only depends upon the genetic makeup of that foetus but also widely upon behavioural habits exhibited by that expecting mother. The behaviours of expecting mothers may enhance or hinder the development of the foetus.
Foetal development and:
Cigarette smoke contains over 1000 different compounds including carbon monoxide, carcinogens and trace elements of lead and nickel. Components of cigarette smoke are known to be transported over placental membrane and are able to act as mutagens in foetal tissues. These components have been shown to be placental carcinogens. Two main components suspected of causing harmful development on the developing foetus during pregnancy are carbon monoxide and nicotine.
“Nicotine has been shown to be a potent vasoconstrictor reducing uterine and placental blood flow” 
These properties may account for the increase in spontaneous abortions seen in smoking women. Smoking is seen to decrease foetal birth weight. A wide variety of cognitive achievement and
Bibliography: 1. Harding, Richard: “FETAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT”; United Kingdom; Cambridge University Press, 2001.