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Pregnancy Brain – Is it real or not?

Pregnancy Brain – Is it real or not?

February 7, 2023

If you’re pregnant and experiencing forgetfulness, poor concentration, or general fuzziness, this could be due to what is known as ‘Pregnancy Brain’ or ‘Mommy Brain’.1a,3a,4c Although there is no scientific or medical agreement that pregnancy brain exists, numerous studies have found a link between being pregnant and less effective performance of common cognitive tasks.1b,3c Continue reading to find out what pregnancy brain is, if it exists, what causes it, and how you can improve your memory and focus while expecting your new bundle of joy.

What is pregnancy brain?

Pregnancy brain symptoms can include forgetting why you entered a room, placing objects in odd locations, forgetting to complete tasks and general absentmindedness.2b,4a,b

Due to the significant hormonal surge that occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, pregnancy brain may start at this time.4d This mental fog can also be made worse by insomnia, a typical condition in the first trimester of pregnancy.4d

You could find it difficult to concentrate on work, remember specifics, or give anything your whole concentration during and after pregnancy.1a,2b,c,,3a,b,4a-c

If your hormone levels stabilize, you might start feeling more like yourself around six months after giving birth, or it might linger far until your child is a toddler.4e

Is pregnancy brain real or just a myth?

According to a 2014 study, although pregnant women and new mothers experienced higher memory loss and forgetfulness than a control group of non-pregnant women, actual neuropsychological measurements revealed little to no difference in the two groups’ brain functions.4f,6a

Although ‘Pregnancy Brain’ is not an official medical condition, this suggests that pregnancy brain is more real than a myth.4a,c

What causes pregnancy brain?

Pregnancy brain might result from the physical and psychological changes that an expecting mom goes through. Below are some of the causes that can cause the pregnancy brain:

Hormonal changes: When you are pregnant, your hormone levels fluctuate. Additionally, some medical professionals think that surges in some hormones, such as progesterone, may impair your capacity to think effectively.4h In a February 2014 study that was published in the journal Brain and Cognition, it was shown that pregnant women in their second trimester and beyond performed worse on tests of spatial recognition memory (SRM) than non-pregnant people did.4g,5a

Insomnia: A lot of expecting moms tend to experience insomnia at some point during their pregnancy, which might impair their capacity for concentration. Memory loss and forgetfulness are additional effects of sleep deprivation.4d,i

Stress and anxiety: Similar to sleep, stress has a variety of effects on you and your body.  For instance, it may result in elevated blood pressure, discomfort, and muscle tension.7a,b All of this can have a significant impact on your mind.  Stress and anxiety are closely linked to memory loss.4p,7b

How to improve your memory during pregnancy?

The best way to start managing your “pregnancy brain” is to eat well and get plenty of rest.4j,k If you have trouble sleeping, try taking short but frequent naps.4l Make a concerted effort to consume plenty of water. Even mild dehydration can impair your ability to concentrate and drain your energy.4m

You could also try some brain-boosting games. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are two excellent options.4n If forgetfulness is an issue, set alarms or reminders for certain tasks, such as doing the laundry or picking up the kids from school. Most watches and phones have calendars that allow you to add events and set up notifications.4o

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Pregnancy week by week. Does “baby brain” really exist? Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/baby-brain/faq-20057896 [Accessed 30 January 2023].
  2. Barda G, Mizrachi Y, Borokchoich I, et al. The effect of pregnancy on maternal cognition. Scientific reports 2021;11:12187. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-91504-9.
  3. Pownall M, Conner M, Hutter RRC, et al. ‘Baby brain’ in pregnancy: A review of social psychological explanations and future research directions. Soc Personal Psychol Compass 2022;16:e12696. doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12696.
  4. Legg TJ. Healthline. Is Pregnancy Brain Real? Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/is-pregnancy-brain-real [Accessed 30 January 2023].
  5. Farrar D, Tuffnell D, Neill J, et al. Assessment of cognitive function across pregnancy using CANTAB: A longitudinal study. Brain and Cognition 2014;84(1):76-84.
  6. Logan DM, Hill KR, Jones R, et al. How do memory and attention change with pregnancy and childbirth? A controlled longitudinal examination of neuropsychological functioning in pregnant and postpartum women. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2014;36(5). doi.org/10.1080/13803395.2014.912614.
  7. Stress and your health. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm [Accessed 30 January 2023].

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