Baby Brain is Real and it is Making You a Better Mom

We can all feel vindicated – baby brain is real!  But it may not mean exactly what you think it does.  Two new studies indicate that our brains are changing during pregnancy to prepare us to be better moms.  And while that alone does not cause forgetfulness and the sluggish mind that we often associate with baby brain, they are symptoms of the hubbub of activity happening inside and outside your body.

Two important changes are occurring in your brain during pregnancy.  First, you are becoming more emotional.  That may sound like a “no-brainer” to you – with all the hormones swirling through your blood, you are probably quite emotional these days.  Along with your mood swings comes a shift in your brain to be more emotionally sensitive and ready to recognize your baby’s needs.  This is especially important for bonding with your baby, learning to interpret the cries of a newborn and trying to get into a breastfeeding rhythm.

Baby Brain is Real and it is Making You a Better Mom

Additionally, a neurobiologist recently reported that during pregnancy the brain is remapping to prepare for motherhood.  Cells, neurons and dendrites are growing and you are constantly forming new connections in the brain.  While you may not feel this way during pregnancy, the new construction of your brain is believed to make you more alert and have better memory, two pertinent skills for moms.  But the side-effect during pregnancy is roadblock due to tons of activity and only so many pathways for your brain to handle all of it.

On top of these neurological changes, you’ve probably got a lot of your plate that contributes to the feeling of pregnancy brain.  Your hormones are a flutter, you may not be getting the ideal amount of sleep and you have a lot to do before your little one arrives.  Beyond putting together a nursery, ensuring you have all the right clothes and supplies for your baby and keeping track of your OB appointments, you are preparing to navigate new relationships with your partner, employer and friends and family too.  These things weigh on your mind, leaving less space for remembering to change out of your flip flops before going into work or returning last week’s phone call from your granny.

We live in hectic times and pregnancy makes things even livelier.  Try to cut yourself some slack when you do make mistakes.  Stress is not good for you or your baby.  Find humor in the situation and move on; usually the people around you will understand.  Also try to make things easier on yourself by writing things down, taking action immediately when something pops into your mind and sticking to routines, even ones as basic as putting your keys in a certain spot every day.

The chaos you feel in your brain is really a good thing.  You are being neurologically hard-wired with some essential mom skills to use right out of the gate.  You and your baby will appreciate the emotional connection your baby brain is developing.  Hang in there, mamas.  You’re getting smarter by the minute!

Forgetfulness During Pregnancy: How Pregnancy Brain Affects Your Memory

Forgetfulness During Pregnancy: How Pregnancy Brain Affects Your MemoryLet’s see if any of these actions resonate with you, a mom-to-be: forgetting where you parked your car, misplacing your keys at home, trailing off mid-sentence in a conversation with your husband, or leaving laundry in the washer because you forgot to switch it to the dryer. Sound familiar? You’re probably experiencing Pregnancy Brain, the forgetful quality that many women take on while expecting.

Even though it doesn’t sound real, Pregnancy Brain has been proven to affect pregnant women based on hormonal and brain cell changes. In your third trimester, for example, studies have shown that pregnant womens’ brain-cell volume temporarily decreases. Coping with out-of-control hormones distracts from keeping your memory clear and focused as well. And if you’re not getting regular, satisfying shut eye—and let’s be honest, no pregnant woman is getting a full night’s rest—then it’s no wonder that pregnant women suffer from impaired memories.

What can you do to combat Pregnancy Brain? Try to anticipate the important activities that populate your schedule and religiously update your smart phone with calendar entries. This is the best time to set alarms and alerts for meetings and doctor’s visits so you can avoid missing anything important. If you’re going to the grocery store, make a quick list to follow so you won’t remember that you missed picking up a gallon of milk when you’re already halfway home. Even if you’re normally the multi-tasking queen, try and finish one project before moving onto the next. Not only will this help you slow down and not feel overwhelmed (emotions and hormones have a nasty way of compounding stress), but you’ll feel in control of your schedule and life.

Just remember: Pregnancy Brain is real and afflicts many pregnant moms-to-be just like yourself. So take it easy on yourself and try to give yourself plenty of time to accomplish each task at hand. Your brain will go back to normal once your baby is born, so it’s not as if you’ll be finding your keys in the freezer on a routine basis! The full night’s rest might not return as quickly, though.

Do you remember suffering from Pregnancy Brain? Share your stories in the comments!