The physical changes are expected during pregnancy; the ballooning belly, swollen feet & calves, and let’s not forget about the potential of pregnancy hemorrhoids. Aside from the telltale physical transformations, mental shifts and physiological brain alterations can happen too.
Suppose you’re feeling absentminded, forgetful, or mental out of it; you’re not imagining things. Pregnancy brain IS a real thing. While the humor that comes with pregnancy brain (like the time you put your car keys in the freezer…again!) can be found, frustration and worry are present.
Believe it or not, there is science driving this silly pregnancy brain phase. The information we share should help clear away some fog and set your mind at ease.
What Is “Pregnancy Brain?”
During pregnancy, and sometimes beyond, it’s possible that you’ll find yourself struggling to focus on tasks, remember details, or give undivided attention to anything. These ladies are pregnancy brain, aka, mommy brain.
Pregnancy brain can start as early as your first trimester. This is when your body gets blasted with a massive surge of hormones. Insomnia isn’t uncommon during early pregnancy, and that only exasperates the state of mental fog.
Will pregnancy brain go away after birth?
I should warn you now, the clouds don’t always clear away once the baby is born. Hormones continue to fluctuate postpartum, not to mention the sleep deprivation is only getting started.
Buckle up! This ride could continue for another six months. If your hormone levels regulate, you should start feeling a bit more like yourself around six months. In some cases, pregnancy brain can last well into your little one’s toddler years; good luck!
Causes of Pregnancy Brain
Several physical and mental changes lead to pregnancy brain. Evidence of temporary cognitive decline is strong, but the research thus far has mixed results.
One 2014 study found that pregnant women and new mothers report more forgetfulness and memory loss than a group of women that weren’t pregnant. However, the neuropsychological measurements showed little to no differences between the brain function of both groups.
Other research and some common sense pinpoint a couple of key contributors.
Hormones are a major player in so many pregnancy-related afflictions and situations. Major surges of progesterone and estrogen can affect the ability to remember easily, think clearly, and focus mindfully.
Some degree of insomnia occurs for most women during pregnancy. Insomnia leads to fatigue and exhaustion, which only adds to the cloudy pregnancy brain that starts causing trouble. Sleep is essential!!
Anxiety & Stress
Stress wreaks a lot of havoc with our physical and mental health. A lot is going on for a woman during her pregnancy; it’s heavy, exciting, and incredibly overwhelming at the same time. There are things to be done, appointments to be made, on top of the physical changes taking place right in front of your eye, and low-key. That combination can make it difficult to focus.
How To Handle Pregnancy Brain
There are brain-boosting techniques or steps one can utilize to sharpen their mental acuity.
- Get Some Sleep: It can be all too easy to lose sleep at different points during pregnancy. Taking steps to quiet your mind and relax your body can help turn down the noise and allow you to get some much-needed rest. While we sleep, our brain forms meaningful connections that encourage cognitive function. Even if it’s a cat nap in the middle of the day, every bit helps.
- Healthy Eating: Pregnancy can lead to some wicked and intense cravings. When combined with the insatiable appetite, eating way too many jalapeño poppers and ice cream is too easy to do before the side effects kick you in the gut. Make sure you get plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
- Set Reminders: If you know it’s bound to happen, take some precautions and set reminders in whatever way helps you not forget. Making lists, using planners, a calendar, and alarms is beneficial.
- Engage In Brain-Boosting Games: Puzzles, apps, and many other things can help boost your brainpower and memory. Our brains need exercise too.
Pregnancy is a world of its own. Pregnancy brain can and will happen, but everything will be just fine!