Your car keys are in the cereal box and you show up at your best friend’s house the day after her birthday party…so, is there actually something to this whole “pregnancy brain” or “momnesia” thing everyone talks about? Or is it just some excuse that a pregnant woman came up with hundreds of years ago that is easy to adopt when they let things slip?
It’s Real and Recognized…But Not Easy to Prove Scientifically
Any woman who has been pregnant will tell you that they aren’t as sharp as they were pre-pregnancy. There are many factors that can contribute to this – being sick all the time, getting less sleep because you’re up all night going to the bathroom, etc. But, according to an Australian study cited by WebMD, there is no actual evidence that pregnancy does anything measurable to your brain or IQ.
That being said, the medical community does recognize that the physical side effects of pregnancy would cause anyone to be less sharp. Director of the Neuropsychological Testing and Evaluation Center at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center says, “When you are not getting enough sleep and are multitasking, nobody’s memory is good…You are not cognitively sharp when you haven’t slept well.”
Something else that could affect your memory and cause “pregnancy brain” is the fact that during pregnancy, your brain is being affected by 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen than normal.
Dr. Louann Brizendine brings up another point. During pregnancy, that little baby inside of you does a pretty good job of taking over all your thoughts. As she puts it, “you only have so many shelves in your brain, so the top three are filled with baby stuff.”
Can Adoptive Mothers Have Pregnancy Brain?
Fueling the theory that pregnancy brain is caused largely by lack of sleep, most moms report feeling normal again about a year after giving birth or whenever they start catching up on sleep. In an article on Fit Pregnancy, co-author of book Momnesia, Shannon Seip says, “Since I adopted my second child, I didn’t have the issue with hormones that I did with my first, but I was definitely sleep deprived and I definitely had momnesia.” She then tells the story of the time she went to work without her shoes. Amazing.
Could “Pregnancy Brain” Be Something Different Altogether?
Women’s Health Magazine reported a study that showed pregnant women having brain changes, but not in the typical negative way it’s commonly talked about. Apparently,
“pregnant women were more sensitive to facial emotion…which could mean that the right hemisphere of their brains (the one responsible for recognizing visual emotion) was more active in them than in new moms, meaning they could process emotion from all angles. This might be the body’s way of preparing a soon-to-be mom to be more responsive to a baby once it’s born…”
Obviously, the brain change described here isn’t what people mean when they refer to “pregnancy brain,” but it is a brain change, and one that makes moms more nurturing and ready to care for their babies.
According to Actual Moms…
According to moms, is pregnancy brain real? You can find plenty of information on scientific studies, but one of the best ways to know what to expect when it comes to “pregnancy brain” is to just talk to moms. Most pregnant women will tell you that their EVERYTHING feels as if it’s been turned upside down. With so many physical changes happening in your body, you’re bound to feel a little “off.”
SmartMoms – Have you noticed any mental changes (positive or negative) during any of your pregnancies? Share and compare in the comments section below!