pregnancy symptoms

Baby Brain - Myth or Fact?

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! 

Red Flags: 11 Pregnancy Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Pregnancy is full of surprises; some wonderful, some annoying, some that can cause worry or alarm. This list isn't intended to cause you fear or worry about your pregnancy, but rather draw some awareness to what may be normal, and what calls for medical attention. Most of the time, those uncomfortable, unsettling symptoms are just another one of the unwanted perks of pregnancy! This list isn't exhaustive, nor does it replace the advice of a medical professional. 

1. Bleeding: Light bleeding in the first trimester isn't necessarily a cause for alarm, but always worth seeking medical attention. Bleeding can be a sign of miscarriage, placental abruption, or placenta previa. 

2. Abdominal pain: Minor aches and pains and round ligament stretching is normal in pregnancy. If pain is severe, constant, or accompanied by bleeding, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. 

3. Swelling or rapid weight gain: Mild or gradual swelling during the last months of pregnancy isn't unusual. However, if swelling is experienced in hands or face, or suddenly in your feet and ankles, you may have a more serious condition like preclampsia. It is important to seek medical attention immediately. 

4. Rapid weight gain: Weigh gain in pregnancy is normal (it better be!). Rapid weight gain is considered to be more than 4 pounds in a week, and could also be related to preclampsia and needs to be addressed with your care provider. 

5. Itching: As your pregnant skin stretches, itchiness is a common side-effect. Severe, persistent itching warrants immediate medical attention, as it could be related to a more serious condition such as Cholestasis of pregnancy, which carries a risk to the fetus, and can cause preterm labor. 

6. Persistent backache: Back ache is a common pregnancy complaint, and not necessarily a cause for alarm, but if it does not subside, it should be checked out by your doctor to ensure it isn't your gall bladder, kidney stones, miscarriage or pre-term labor. 

7. Fever: A fever that persists beyond 24-36 hours should be assessed by a doctor to rule out a virus that could be harmful to your pregnancy. 

8. Blurry vision: Persistent blurred vision that is accompanied by headache, abdominal pain, or a sudden increase in swelling, could be a symptom of preclampsia or gestational diabetes and medical attention should be sought immediately.

9. Decreased fetal movement: Your baby will have periods of activity and rest, however, after 26-28 weeks, 6 or more fetal movements should be detected in a 2 hour window. If you aren't feeling much movement, trust your instincts and seek medical attention. 

10. Leak or gush of fluid:A constant wetness in your underwear, or a leak or sudden gush of fluid, could mean that the amniotic sac has broken Whether this happens pre or full term, seek the attention of your care provider immediately. 

11. Severe vomiting or weightloss: While nausea and vomiting or an all-too-common symptom in pregnancy, persistent vomiting and the inability to keep food or liquid down, could mean you are experiencing a more serious condition, called, Hypermesis Gravidarium, and may require IV fluids vitamins. Seek the advice and care of your doctor.  

With all symptoms and experiences in pregnancy, trust your instinct. Seeking the advice or reassurance for any symptoms is never an inconvenience to your hospital or care-provider, and will either give you the help require or the peace of mind that you need.