In addition to the expected changes during pregnancy like morning sickness and the baby bump, you may also experience some unexpected physical and emotional changes. A classic example is the ‘pregnancy brain’.
Have you noticed that you’re now more forgetful or absentminded than usual?
Don’t fret: this is just another weird pregnancy symptom, and this article is just for you.
In this post, you’d learn what the pregnancy brain is all about; the causes, and possible treatments during pregnancy.
Table of contents
What Is Pregnancy Brain?
In plain terms, pregnancy brain means increased forgetfulness and absentmindedness during pregnancy, and in some cases, the postpartum period.
While expecting, it may become quite difficult to remember details – sometimes you may not even remember your own birthday! In addition, you may also find it stressful to focus on tasks or give your full attention to anything.
This phenomenon can also be referred to as “mommy brain.” Sometimes, pregnancy brain may begin as early as the first trimester and even continue after delivery.
Here’s the fact:
Occasional spells of forgetfulness during pregnancy are absolutely normal and common. Even if you have always been at the top of the game when it comes to multitasking and organizing, you may still go through this phase during pregnancy.
The good news is: you’d regain total recall some months into your postpartum journey.
Causes of pregnancy brain
Like many other mental and physical changes during pregnancy, the mommy brain can be caused by several factors. Some of them include:
1. Inadequate sleep
Insomnia is a usual experience for soon-to-be-moms.
In fact, most women find it more difficult to sleep as pregnancy progresses. This is because it gets increasingly difficult to find the right sleeping posture as a result of the growing baby bump. Furthermore, frequent urination (even at nighttime) which comes with pregnancy can also alter your sleep pattern in this period.
Lack of sleep can make you feel out of place. Sometimes, it can even affect your mood and memory. Getting enough sleep helps your brain rest and also makes some important connections that aid memory.
The truth is that you’re bringing a new and whole life into the world and this can be really tasking.
In addition to housing your little one, you also have to stay healthy, attend doctor’s appointments, and prepare for delivery day. Even the fear of labor can also increase your stress levels and lead to the development of pregnancy brain while expecting.
3. Physical changes in the brain
Research has shown that your brain also undergoes physical changes during pregnancy. Scans reveal significant reductions in the gray matter volume of most pregnant women. This gray matter is part of what codes information for social cognition in humans. Furthermore, these scans show changes in the relationship-building parts of the brain during pregnancy.
These changes may even linger for some months in the postpartum period. However, everything will return to normal in due time.
4. Hormonal changes
Once again, the hormones are responsible.
During pregnancy, your body would experience an upsurge of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Experts believe that these fluctuations can affect your ability to think, focus, and remember things.
When this happens, some women even struggle with remembering their current location and phone numbers!
How To Deal With Pregnancy Brain
Here are some reliable tips to improve and sharpen your mental strength during pregnancy:
1. Get enough sleep
Although this can be quite difficult, proper rest is really important during pregnancy.
We understand how busy it gets; balancing your pregnancy diet with pregnancy-safe exercise routines and preparing for childbirth. Nevertheless, it is important to look out for yourself too.
Take some time to clear and quiet your mind such that you don’t have any pressing worries. Relax your body and create a more restful environment. Trying out these breathing exercises will also help you rest and relax while expecting.
Sleep is really important because it gives your body the calm it needs to make the important connections necessary for proper cognitive function.
If you’re unable to get enough sleep at night, a daytime nap can also do the trick. Just make sure that you’re resting as much as you can.
2. Eat good food
Pregnancy and weird food cravings are inseparable.
However, as you satisfy your taste buds, remember to include the key ingredients of a healthy pregnancy diet in all you eat.
Some of these vital ingredients include:
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA: like salmon which helps to build brain cells needed for memory and cognition.
- Green leafy vegetables: which are rich in vitamins and some other minerals that help your brain think well and also help your memory.
- Foods high in antioxidants and vitamins which improve brain function.
- Fruits such as strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc. are rich in antioxidants that help to fight brain fogging inflammation and help to improve communication between brain cells.
- Egg yolks: which are rich in choline. Studies show that choline is essential for the formation of acetylcholine, which improves memory and cognitive function.
3. Drink a lot of water
In fact, you can never go wrong with water during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. Your brain needs water to really function. Dehydration no matter how mild can affect your ability to concentrate.
Therefore, you should drink about 8 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated during pregnancy.
4. Write a to-do list
Making a list of stuff you have to do really helps.
This would help you stay on track and keep a record of all the things you have to do. You can keep sticky notes on the fridge, table, kitchen door, or any other places you visit frequently. This helps you to keep seeing the things you want to do, and also remember them.
A Final Note from Edie & Amy
Laughing also helps you relieve stress.
You can laugh at yourself when you forget seemingly little things. Don’t take it hard on yourself, you’re going through a lot already. So, forgive yourself, laugh over it and move ahead.
Just enjoy the journey.
Elseline Hoekzema, Erika Barba-Müller, Cristina Pozzobon, Marisol Picado, Florencio Lucco, David García-García, Juan Carlos Soliva, Adolf Tobeña, Manuel Desco, Eveline A Crone, Agustín Ballesteros, Susanna Carmona and Oscar Vilarroya (2017). Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Nature Neuroscience: volume 20, pages 287–296. Accessed on 12th September, 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4458
Erika Barba-Müller, Sinéad Craddock, Susanna Carmona, and Elseline Hoekzema (2019). Brain plasticity in pregnancy and the postpartum period: links to maternal caregiving and mental health. Archives of Women’s Mental Health; 22(2): 289–299. Accessed on 12th September, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440938/#__ffn_sectitle