Is Pregnancy Brain a Real Thing?
Many people have dismissed pregnancy brain, also referred to as baby brain, as an old wives’ tale. Yet, many pregnant women often report poor concentration or bad decision making when they are expecting.
If your brain is feeling foggy, your struggling to focus, or you are feeling more indecisive than usual, you might be wondering if pregnancy brain is a real thing.
Baby Brain Study – Yes, Pregnancy Brain is a Real Thing
According to a 2018 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, pregnancy brain is a real thing. Researchers reviewed the cognitive function of 709 pregnant women, as well as 521 women who weren’t expecting a baby.
Each pregnant and non-pregnant woman was asked to complete a series of tasks, such as a digit span test that required them to memorise numbers in a row. The task results found that mothers-to-be performed worse on tasks focused on decision making, memory, planning and attention, which was compared to non-pregnant women.
It’s also believed that baby brain can affect expectant mothers in different ways throughout their pregnancy. For instance, the study found that baby brain occurred at the start of the first trimester before stabilised towards the end of the second to the third trimester.
However, the study proved that pregnant women performed within the normal range, they just were not as sharp as non-pregnant women during pregnancy. So, while there was a noticeable difference in their performance, baby brain was unlikely to have a dramatic effect on their everyday life.
The Cause of Pregnancy Brain
It is not known why pregnancy brain occurs or how long it will last after a woman gives birth. One study found that there is a decrease in gray matter in the brain, which is in a region that processes social information, which helps mothers to establish a bond with their baby and decode their child’s facial expressions.
Baby brain could, therefore, be an adaptive phenomenon that could help pregnant women to prepare for life as a mother. The study also found that grey matter loss was restored two years after childbirth.
Pregnancy Brain is a Good Thing
If you are experiencing bouts of forgetfulness, struggle to focus, or have a short attention span, don’t worry. Pregnancy brain is helping your body to adapt to being a mother and raising a child, so it could help you to become more a more responsive and sensitive parent.
Other Causes of Baby Brain
In addition to a reduction in grey matter, there are also other factors that could be causing baby brain. For example, elevated hormones could be to blame, which can cause poor memory, low mood, and increased anxiety.
A lack of sleep could also be causing your forgetfulness, poor focus or memory problems. It could also be the culprit once your baby has arrived in the world, as they’ll likely have many sleepless nights caring for a newborn.
Stress could be another factor. Caring for a child can place great physical and mental pressure on mothers, which is why baby brain symptoms can often strike. You can, however, decrease stress by looking for ways to relax and buying the best products to support your mind and body throughout each trimester.
If you are struggling with baby brain, it could be caused by one or more factors. While you cannot control rising hormones or decreased grey matter in the brain, you could improve some symptoms by grabbing some shuteye while you can and attempting to lower your stress levels.