Blame it on the pregnancy brain!

Does pregnancy affect cognitive functions?
Are pregnant women really more forgetful?

A pregnant body is transforming and changing in various ways. From swollen ankles to mommy-brain. But is mommy-brain or pregnancy-brain a real side-effect of expecting a child?

Many soon-to-be moms experience what is known as ‘pregnancy brain’. They tend to be more forgetful, clumsy and have poor concentration during the nine months they are expecting, and even after. But are there actual cognitive changes that lead to this? Or is it a coincidence? Let’s find out what happens inside the brain of an expecting mom!

What is pregnancy brain?

Forgetting your wallet for the yet again, not remembering what someone said just one minute ago, bumping into the same table every single time, losing your stuff everywhere… Pregnant women tend to have more and more of these types of disturbances.

Pregnancy brain, also referred to as "baby brain" or "momnesia," is a term used to describe the cognitive changes that some women experience during their pregnancy. It is characterized by forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and mental fog. Women tend to feel more overwhelmed and less focused during these months.

Research about pregnancy brain

In an meta-analysis, published by the Medical Journal of Australia, 20 studies on the pregnancy-brain-phenomenon have been re-examined. The research followed 709 pregnant and 521 non-pregnant women. The goal was to determine whether pregnancy causes lower cognitive functioning and if that trend develops further on in their pregnancy.

The results? Cognitive functioning, memory and general functioning were significantly poorer in pregnant women. the first trimester the changes develop, and continuously decrease when the weeks progress. With the most noticeable changes in the third trimester.

Why does it occur?

There is not a definitive answer as to why it happens, but there are different factors that could be the potential cause.

  • Hormonal fluctuations: the hormones of pregnant women can be all over the place. The hormonal shifts, especially the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, can impact cognitive function.
  • Sleep deficiencies: waking up during the night, difficulties falling asleep or needing more sleep than ever, all cause your brain to function different than usual. This affects the brain performance.
  • Psychological and emotional factors: there is so much changing and it is an emotional process, this can affect concentration and memory.

How to manage the mommy-dementia

It can be frustrating to deal with, but sometimes there is no way around it. Use some of these strategies to deal with all the changes.

  • Stay organized: Use calendars, planners, or smartphone apps to keep track of appointments, key dates, and tasks. Make lists to prioritize and break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Establish routines: Consistency can help reduce cognitive load. Establish daily routines for activities such as meal preparation, self-care, and household chores to minimize decision-making and free up mental space.
  • Delegate and seek support: Don't hesitate to ask for help. Call in your partner, friends or family to support you. Sharing responsibilities can alleviate some of the cognitive burdens and help you focus on self-care and rest.
  • Stay physically active: Regular exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function. Engage in low-impact activities suitable for pregnancy, such as prenatal yoga, swimming, or walking. Consult your healthcare provider for appropriate exercise recommendations.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities like relaxation exercises, meditation, or taking leisurely baths. Engaging in activities that reduce stress can positively impact cognitive function.
  • Get sufficient rest: Adequate sleep is crucial for cognitive performance. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and consider using supportive pillows designed for pregnant women.

Do you get more forgetful when on your period too?

The idea that women are more forgetful during their period has been floating around for years. However, scientific research does not provide strong evidence to support this claim. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between menstrual cycle phases and cognitive function, and the results have been inconclusive. 

brain brein hersenen hersenpanNo need to worry

Pregnancy brain is a common cognitive phenomenon experienced by many expectant mothers. While it can be frustrating at times, it's essential to remember that it is a temporary condition and a normal part of the pregnancy journey. By employing strategies like staying organized, seeking support, and prioritizing self-care, you can effectively manage pregnancy brain and embrace this beautiful phase of your life with confidence and joy.

Disclaimer: Pregnancy brain is a common experience; however, if you have concerns about memory or cognitive changes that are severe or persistent, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for a proper evaluation.

Don’t forget that every pregnancy is different and experiences vary. Embrace the changes, be kind to yourself, and enjoy the incredible journey of motherhood!

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