Baby brain, mostly known as pregnancy brain, is a common pregnancy symptom that still raises some controversy.
Basically, it's the pregnancy-induced brain fog that a lot of women experience when carrying a child. Such a side effect leads them to forget many details that they wouldn't under normal circumstances, like errands, appointments and even personal information, like their own cell phone number!
Is baby brain a myth or a reality? That's a good question that we'll answer right now: yes, it's a real thing! Keep reading to find out why and how it can affect you, along with other useful information about it.
What causes forgetfulness in pregnancy?
Experts aim at hormonal changes as the main cause of baby brain, because the high levels of progesterone and oestrogen do have an impact on your neurons and the brain circuits. Besides hormones, we should add the lack of sleep to this list. Indeed, when you are pregnant, there are several symptoms, such as heartburn or leg cramps, that may keep you awake... and frustrated! Not having enough sleep usually coincides in time with other factors, like a lot of planning for your baby's arrival and antenatal appointments. That's why it's even more understandable that you may be a bit fuzzy-headed, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
In addition, studies have shown that during pregnancy, women's brains increase their activity in the 'emotional side', which will be busy when their babies are born (and that's how the endearing connection between mum and baby begins). That sheds light on baby brain too, and so does the fact that by the third trimester of pregnancy, your brain cell-volume decreases (according to other researchers).
What can I do to make baby brain better?
Not feeling as sharp as usual is a matter of concern, so getting worried is usual. Some women who don't know about baby brain get really scared when, suddenly, they feel like they've become airheads. Past the fright, often after talking to a doctor about it, you can do a few things to get some mental clarity back:
- Just relax: calm down and avoid stress at all cost, because it will make your pregnancy brain even worse.
- Write stuff down: is there anything better than writing things down to remember them? Well, this is the best time to test it. Keep an agenda at hand, create lists of events and don't miss any important details, like taking your prenatal vitamins!
- Use technology: if you don't like the idea of writing your errands down, you can always use your smartphone or another electronic device to keep track of what you need to do.
- Delegate responsibilities: don't put too much work on your shoulders and let other people, like Dad, family or friends, take over. That way, you'll be able to focus better on a few things, minimising the baby brain's effect.
- Eat foods with choline and Omega-3: introduce foods rich in choline into your diet. This mineral has a chemical called acetylcholine that is meant to boost memory. Also, load up on Omega-3, fatty acids that can improve your brain function and the baby's one.
An easy, and highly recommendable, tip is for you to get more sleep. As mentioned above, the lack of sleep can trigger baby brain. After delivery, make sure you take turns with your partner, so that you can catch up with your missing bed time... and sharpness!
Will baby brain get better?
As it happens with other pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy brain will no longer bother you past a few months after giving birth. That being said, you can speed this process by trying the tips listed above.
Finally, baby brain can certainly be unpleasant, but you need to hold onto the idea that such a forgetfulness is just temporary. Now that you know what this is, try facing it with a positive attitude. Baby brain can be annoying, but it will leave you with a few funny anecdotes to tell! Take it the way it is, a transitional symptom, and even laugh at it with your partner and best friends. This is actually the best way to downplay the issue!