Well, erm…, they say many things about pregnancy and the changes it heralds. One such widely debated change, or condition, is the pregnancy brain. But, what is a pregnancy brain? More on that below:
Now many people, old wives, tale-exponents, et al, claim that pregnancy can make you forgetful! But, is it really so? While it may seem natural and indeed logical that along with those raging hormones and frequent mood swings, pregnancy brain is an obvious outcome. But does science also agree with this logical line of thought?
The Science Behind The Pregnancy Brain:
By now, you’re probably thinking whether it is the pregnancy that’s making you forget to water your flowerpots, or it’s probably that you’re only human. Like your confused state, the science behind this pregnancy brain concept isn’t remarkably conclusive; haven’t we heard that one before.
So, what is all the fuss about? Pregnancy hormones and the changes they trigger may be possible culprits for the condition. Some women report forgetfulness during pregnancy while others don’t.
A study conducted in 2008 reported that women who weren’t pregnant perform better on many measures of memory, particularly on short-term or working memory and recall.
Later that year, another study on pregnant mice reported that they were suffering from a neurogenesis or a birth of neurons, decrease in their hippocampus. Hippocampus is crucial for both short-term and long-term memory and spatial navigation, critical to remember stuff like where the car is parked, etc. Further studies on pregnant rats also reported changes in the hippocampus size, which was smaller for the pregnant rats. But, no human studies have been conducted yet.
A recent 2014 study on pregnant women reported that they reported considerably lower scores in the second and third trimesters than their scores in the first trimester. But the results did not affect any hormonal levels in blood plasma. So the hormones may not be the real culprits at all.
Many experts remain conflicted; one bunch says hormonal levels may lead to memory loss, another group concludes that sleep deprivation, combined with postpartum stress, may lead to forgetfulness when you are pregnant. Some researchers also believe that changes in a routine, or a new pregnancy can also affect a woman’s memory abilities.
A fascinating research study may be a better way to look at this non-scientifically conclusive theory of pregnancy brain: we need to understand the cultural and societal expectations of a pregnant mom. We, as much we wouldn’t like to admit it, are bound to our ways and our society. And, one group of researchers in convinced that the mere concept, or indeed a myth, of “a pregnancy brain”, makes women much more conscious of everyday slip ups and lapses of memory, which such women, conveniently, attribute to “pregnancy brain”.
So, there you have it. There is no such thing as a pregnancy brain. The next time you hear women talk about this particular aspect, feel free to educate them. After all, we are all proponents of motherhood, and we need to pool our knowledge.