What Causes A Pregnancy Brain And How To Deal With It?

What Causes A Pregnancy Brain And How To Deal With It

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Pregnancy brings about remarkable changes in your body. One such change is related to your memory, resulting in a condition called pregnancy brain. No, pregnancy does not change your brain structure, but it can make remembering things difficult.

Here, MomJunction helps you understand the possible reasons for pregnancy brain and how to deal with the situation.

What Is Pregnancy Brain?

Pregnancy brain, also referred to as ‘momnesia’, is just forgetfulness that many women experience during, and for a short period after, pregnancy. Around 50 to 80% of women are said to be forgetful during pregnancy (1).

Some studies suggest that a woman’s cognitive as well as executive functioning are affected to some extent during pregnancy (2). Problems with memory may begin in the first trimester and continue until the third trimester when the forgetfulness could peak.

Researchers think that pregnancy brain helps the expecting mother to cope up with the stress after childbirth and connect with the baby emotionally (3). However, there is a lack of substantial evidence to validate such claims.

The following section details the possible reasons for pregnancy brain.

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What Causes Pregnancy Brain?

Pregnancy brain can be due to (1):

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can impact the areas of the brain that are associated with memory.
  • Plasma level changes of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
  • Anxiety and stress experienced during and post pregnancy can affect the brain functions related to recognition and memory.
  • Sleep deprivation could also affect how you recollect things.

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How Does Pregnancy Brain Affect You?

Here is how pregnancy could affect the brain:

  • Impacts memory: Studies have suggested that pregnant women tend to have a poor memory when compared to non-pregnant women (4). Memory functioning was found to be worse during the third trimester and the early postpartum period. However, the condition is temporary, and you may get back on track once you get adjusted to the new life.
  • Recognition memory: Though the tests showed that pregnant women had difficulty recollecting and retrieving information, their recognition memory was not as affected (4).
  • Changes in the gray matter: Some studies have found that the shrinkage of gray matter in some areas of the brain can slow down the responding and processing functions (5). However, some researchers suggest that this helps the women to be more tuned and focused on what their babies need.

Managing your days with a pregnancy brain is not easy. Next, we have a few tips on dealing with pregnancy brain.

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How To Improve Your Memory During Pregnancy?

Here are some tips to help you keep track of things during pregnancy.

  1. Maintain a calendar: You can carry a planner or use a calendar app to track your important tasks.
  1. Fix a place for storing: Keep the important and essential things such as sunglasses, keys, wallets, etc., in one place.
  1. Set alarms or notifications: Update your tasks on your mobile or computer with alarm or notification settings.
  1. Omega-3 rich foods: Include DHA-rich foods in your diet as they help improve brain function.
  1. Write notes: Note down about important things in your mobile note app or by jotting down in your pocket diary.
  1. Get enough sleep: It boosts your energy, refreshes your mind, and keeps you mentally alert.
  1. Exercise: It helps you sleep better and keeps you alert. Breathing exercises help in keeping stress at bay.
  1. Ask for help: You can always ask your partner or family members for help if you have a lot of stress or are unable to remember things.
  1. Stop multitasking: Prioritize your work and focus on one thing rather than handling multiple things at a time.

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Forgetfulness is normal during pregnancy and can even help you master multitasking and stay organized. But if it affects your day-to-day functioning and you are unable to remember or concentrate on important things, then you must seek a doctor’s help soon.

Remember that pregnancy brain is a temporary phase, and your memory improves postpartum.

How was your memory during pregnancy? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

References:

1. R. Horsager-Boehrer, M.D., L. Lacritz, Ph. D; Is ‘pregnancy brain’ real or just a myth?; UT Southwestern Medical Center (2016)
2. S. Davies, J. AG Lum, H. Skouteris, L. Byrne and M. Hayden; Cognitive impairment during pregnancy: a meta-analysis; MJ Australia (2018)
3. Pregnancy Brain: Does It Exist?; Healthy Women
4. J. Henry, B. Sherwin; Hormones and Cognitive Functioning During Late Pregnancy and Postpartum: A Longitudinal Study; Behav Neurosci. 2012
5. E. Hoekzema, E. Barba-Müller, C. Pozzobon, M. Picado, F. Lucco, D. García-García, J. Soliva, A. Tobeña, M. Desco, E. A Crone, A. Ballesteros, S. Carmona & O. Vilarr; Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure; Nature Neuroscience (2017)
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shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling. know more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreeja-pillai/
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