Pregnancy brain, mommy brain, baby brain, all of these are names you may have heard to describe the symptoms that seem to produce a sort of Momnesia in pregnancy and afterward. If you’re experiencing increased forgetfulness or a general lag in your mental sharpness, it’s not likely you’re not losing your mind; both literally and figuratively.
The research on the subject isn’t extensive, but the research seems to show that while mental sharpness definitely takes a hit, it’s likely due to a major increase in estrogen and progesterone, clouding memory and inhibiting optimal mental function. These studies are reassuring though, suggesting that this is a temporary issue; there does not seem to be any actual lasting affect on the functioning of your brain due to these hormones, just a temporary annoyance (that occasionally comes in handy as a great alibi for forgetfulness!)
As inconvenient and frustrating as this common pregnancy and postpartum issue can be (because it certainly doesn’t seem to let up in those early weeks and months after birth), there could be an evolutionary explanation for baby brain. While you may be missing appointments and forgetting what you walked into the kitchen for, your brain seems to focus your attention on what’s most important during this time; caring for yourself and your offspring is at the forefront of your mind and seems to take the number one priority, putting the less-important things on the back-burner.
So what can you do to help yourself out and lessen the impact of this annoying symptom? Don’t rely on your memory to try to keep appointments, complete deadlines, and finish errands; your brain could use a break from the extra space those things take up, and there are simple ways to do this! Make lists (and try to keep them in one place!) and utilize your cell phone calendar or set alarmed reminders for yourself.
Getting extra sleep will go a long way, too. There’s a good chance you feel like you are needing more sleep than ever in pregnancy, and after baby is born you may experience a lack of sleep like you’ve never known before! Don’t hesitate to take a mid-day nap, and ask for an extra pair of hands to hold the baby or watch your toddler so you can catch up on sleep. Your baby brain will thank you!
Rest assured that this unsettling feeling that someone has loosened a few lightbulbs in your brain, is only temporary one. Be gentle on yourself during this time when your body is undergoing an extreme takeover. This too shall pass!