Ever heard of Pregnancy amnesia or mummy brains? – Well if you’ve been pregnant, you still are or are a new mum, then chances are that you’ve experienced this phenomenon.
You are likely to know first-hand how forgetful pregnancy can make you feel. You are not alone; pregnancy amnesia and mummy brain is real! And many mums can attest to going through episodes of forgetfulness, some of them funny, some frustrating while others outright unbelievable.
Healthcare professionals previously assumed that pregnancy and mummy brain were merely the byproduct of a lack of sleep and the numerous demands of caring for a newborn. But new research indicates that pregnancy and motherhood actually changes the makeup of a mum’s brain. Yes, failing to remember appointments or names, or where you left your keys can certainly be a symptom of those brain changes.
Beatrice, a mum of two remembers how forgetful she became especially with baby No.2. With her first child it was not so bad.
She remembers that she used to misplace the car keys all the time! Many are times she’d be so thirsty and go to the kitchen to get me some water then get to the kitchen and completely forget what she’d gone there to do. The one incident that really got her was when one time they were coming from church then as they were about to get into the car, her husband noticed that one tire was low on air so he gave her his spectacles to hold. Absent mindedly she put them on top of the car and forgot them there!
And soon after on many different occasions she forgot her diary or her water bottle on top of the car again! On many occasions she reached the clinic and realized she had forgotten the baby’s clinic card at home. The forgetfulness was endless. What she is grateful for, is that her husband was supportive husband and took it upon himself to remind her of stuff. So you are not alone, many mums can attest to this.
So what causes Pregnancy Amnesia?
HORMONES, for one — nothing throws a woman’s hormones out of whack quite like pregnancy! Hormones are largely responsible for causing pregnancy brain. A woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels spike 15 to 40 times their normal amounts during pregnancy, and these spikes have a definite neural impact. The higher the levels of hormones in a woman’s body, the more likely it is for her hippocampus to be affected. And because estrogen and progesterone gradually increase throughout pregnancy until reaching a peak just before the birth, the third trimester is likely the most problematic for women with regards to memory. And then, of course, hormones are also at least partially to blame for the “new mom” fog that most of us find ourselves in during the first few weeks after birth.
SLEEP is a huge factor – in both pregnancy amnesia and mummy brain. Chronic, relentless sleep deprivation makes the usual symptoms of pregnancy brain and mummy brain so much worse. Forgetfulness, irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety….endless sleep deprivation can both cause these problems and make them worse. That’s why getting a handle on your baby’s sleep problems and coaching your child towards sleep-filled nights and rested naps is so key.
So what can you do about it?
1. Manage your stress levels: mums –to-be can keep their minds sharp by managing stress levels and catching enough zzzs (get the recommended eight hours, plus any catnaps you can squeeze in). If you experience what recurrent sleep problems, heightened anxiety, long and uncontrollable crying spells, or compromised mood, it’s time to seek help.
2. Take a deep breath: Try not to be too hard on yourself. Stress will only cloud your pregnancy brain even more!
3. Write it down. If you need to remember something — groceries to buy, phone calls to make, questions for your practitioner, taking your prenatal vitamin — leave a big note in an obvious place. You might also stash a notepad and pen in easy-to-remember spots like your purse, your car and your bathroom.
4. Turn high-tech: Use your Blackberry, laptop, or other electronic organizer to help keep you organized and less forgetful.
5. Have a backup system: Reduce the number of things you need to remember – cut down on what you’re responsible for by delegating some jobs to others. When possible, enlist the aid of those around you who are not pregnant to serve as your backup system (Honey… have you seen my keys?). Easier said than done, but worth a go. (You’ll forget about the less important stuff, anyway.)
6. Prepare yourself: Expect the haze to hang in during the first weeks after you give birth. Postpartum fatigue may take the place of hormones as the primary culprit, but that too shall pass
7. Have a sense of humor: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Let yourself have a good laugh about this airhead stage, and encourage your partner to do the same. Who cares if you left the car keys in the refrigerator?
Have you experienced pregnancy amnesia or mummy brains? We would love to hear your experience, please share below..