When I was pregnant with my son, I was so relieved when the first trimester was finally over. Morning sickness sucks and I was so over it.
I was also so excited about the new bouts of energy.
Finally, I could enjoy being pregnant!
Then, I started dropping things.
I found it difficult to remember even simple things like the milk stays in the fridge and the coffee powder lives in the pantry. The dates were all messy and I once even turned up at my dentist instead of the midwife!
It was funny but at the same time scary. The whole phase of memory loss was freaking me out
To my most extraordinary relief, my midwife convinced me that no, I wasn’t losing my mind, but that pregnancy brain was absolutely real.
And the good news? It’s temporary.
What is Pregnancy Brain?
When you start feeling forgetful or struggle remembering dates, or when you find it hard to remember regular simple routines and it gets all confusing with your days, dates and weeks, that’s called pregnancy brain.
Researchers define pregnancy brain/mommy brain/baby brain as loss of attention or memory deficit, affecting about 80% of all pregnant women.
It can begin as early as the first trimester and continue through your child’s toddler years.
It’s your hormones. Oh yes! The hormones are running crazy, they are constantly fluctuating, and you can blame it all on the hormones for forgetting where you put your car keys to being awake all night.
What Causes Pregnancy Brain?
Pregnancy is a time of tremendous and intensely physical, physiological and psychological changes. You have conceived this little human, and your body works and changes a lot to nourish, nurture and develop this small and delicate soul.
It’s your brain’s technique of coping with caring for a vulnerable and demanding infant. It is your body’s response to the many challenges of pregnancy, birthing and looking after your newborn.
It is a critical period of dramatic neurodevelopmental changes in your brain to adapt to this exciting phase of motherhood.
As an expectant parent, your body and brain face many physical and mental challenges. The hormones are always changing – you might be feeling anxious. There is a lot to think about a lot to prepare for.
Maybe this was a surprise pregnancy, or perhaps you are worried about the financial challenges of being pregnant.
All these factors affect your thinking, memory and cognitive abilities, causing what is commonly referred to as a pregnant brain.
It’s your hormones: Hormones, hormones and more hormones. It can be blamed for everything from your stretch marks, pigmentation, glowing hair to mood swings, being teary and your mushy brain.
Take it from the experts – hormones play a significant role in influencing your memory and thinking process.
So next time, you seem to have forgotten what exactly you had for morning tea, remember it is the surge in your progesterone and estrogen levels that is affecting your cognitive, recalling and focusing abilities.
Signs of Pregnancy Brain
You are tired, your feet and body aches and you are trying to sleep. But it looks like you’ll be counting stars tonight.
You are not alone if your sleep is being affected.
I found it hard to get a good snooze during pregnancy with the aches, leg cramps, constant peeing and late-night hunger pangs.
Sadly, it gets even worse in the third trimester with a big fat tummy, making it even harder to get proper rest.
Being sleep deprived affects your mood, memory and makes you foggy-brained at work and leads to mommy brain syndrome.
Pregnancy is a massive milestone in your life. There are many reasons you could be worried or anxious about.
And, it could be more challenging if you are a first-time mom. Studies say stress reduces your brain memory and thinking abilities and causes memory lapses, attention deficit and flawed thinking.
While it is normal to feel anxious, nervous, excited and overwhelmed all at the same time, take a deep breath and relax.
Being a mom is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and take it easy and slowly. Your anxieties can wait. Enjoy your pregnancy and let it be filled with lasting memories.
While physical, hormonal and physiological changes can affect your thinking and memory, studies reflect undeniable changes are occurring in your brain, at the cellular level.
A 2016 study found significant physical changes were occurring in your brain when you conceive. This study found a substantial reduction in the brain’s grey matter, which is linked to reduced social connectivity.
Other studies have reported widespread brain changes affecting your memory and train thoughts.
Well, the bad news here is it can last up to your child’s second birthday. The best part, it is your body’s mechanism to prepare room in your brain when you give birth.
It is the body’s way of gearing up to care for your infant. It is preparing your body, to respond adequately to your baby and to meet his needs.
12 Tips to Overcome Pregnancy Brain
1. Eat Healthy and Well
Eating a well balanced and healthy diet that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are super important for a healthy brain, especially in pregnancy. Focus on getting more of Omega-3’s in your plate as salmon or any fatty fish.
This helps in boosting your brain function and keeps you on track
2. Drink Water
Keep pumping your drink bottle.
Hydration is so essential for your body functioning and to keep your brain working at its best. Even mild dehydration can significantly affect your thinking, focusing and concentrating ability.
Studies say dehydration can cause sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and even have detrimental health effects. So, no excuse, mama. Keep drinking. Add some flavors and make it enjoyable.
3. Snooze In
Your body is working hard and it needs rest.
A good night’s sleep is essential for optimal brain functioning, to energize and revitalize your system.
However, sleeping can be hard during pregnancy. A short twenty-minutes of shut-eye can work wonders in your brain and body.
4. Set Reminders
Use your smartphone reminder settings or leave sticky notes reminding you of tasks, dates and appointments. Daily planners and calendars can help keep your days organized and save you from unwanted worries.
Make sure to also prioritize and write down important tasks.
5. Say it Out Loud
When you say something out loud, it makes it seem real. Your body and mind hear it.
This makes it easier to remember.
6. Be Active
Being physically active and exercising regularly helps boost your brain’s cognitive functioning and memory processing. A study by the Institute of Memory Impairments reported that brain activity was sharpest after a workout.
Even a simple daily walking routine can do wonders to your body.
It strengthens your immune system, regulates your weight, stimulates brain chemicals and lifts your mood and performance.
7. Get Social
Being social and having friends is always vital to express and vent your feelings.
Sometimes, the best person who listens to your woes may not be your partner but a close friend or neighbor.
Call a friend, text or send a message and share your concerns. Sharing your feelings and emotions helps alleviate your anxieties. You will be surprised when you hear other mums relate the same worries and concerns.
8. Ask for Help
Now, this can be hard. As a woman, we tend to overdo things – but hold on!
This is not the time to compete with yourself. Slow down and ask for help! You need it, your body needs it and your brain needs it. Seek help from family, friends, relatives and ease your workload.
9. Be Kind to Yourself
Baby brains can be quite overwhelming and make you feel anxious and worried. Remember, your body is working hard to care for the growing baby. So, while it seems scary, relax and breathe out.
This is a temporary phase, and you will overcome it. Have a chat with other mums or a friend who will listen and understand! Forgive yourself. It’s ok to be clumsy and drop a few things.
Laugh and try to see the humor in every situation. These are lasting memories down the path.
10. Play Games
Brain boosting games may help sharpen your brain and keep it focused. Try your mental workouts by playing brainy games like crossword puzzles, sudoku and solo games.
They will keep you entertained, take your mind off stressors and improve your thinking and concentration powers. You could also try the gazillion options of online memory boosting apps.
11. Seek Professional Help
Mommy brains are only temporary. However, it may last up to two years, and it’s your body’s mechanism of resculpting and coping with maternal and infant needs and challenges.
However, if you are feeling worried, anxious, or it’s all getting too much, seek medical advice.
12. Always Listen to Your Body
When memory lapses or forgetfulness is coupled with other symptoms such as lack of interest, feelings of guilt, self-harm, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping – it could be a sign of impending depression, and you need help ASAP!
Pregnancy brain may seem harsh on your tired and hard-working body and brain. Every mother goes through it – the level of memory impairment may be different among different women and with each pregnancy.
Nonetheless, remember it is okay to forget a few names. It is okay to stash your car keys in the pantry or mix up your appointment dates.
Memory lapse in pregnancy is a temporary phase and it is your brain’s brilliant mechanism of restructuring, sculpting, remodeling and rewiring the neuronal pathways to prepare and adapt to motherhood.
Let us stop and acknowledge this beautiful mechanism in all its glory, as your body brings forth a fantastic creation, in your very own likeness and image!
Enjoy your pregnancy, mama!!