"Mom Brain" is for Real
According to a Parent's Magazine article, "Mommy brain," "pregnancy brain," and "baby brain" are non-medical terms used to describe many cognitive changes pregnant people face. For some, these changes present as forgetfulness or memory loss. For others, it's a haziness or brain fog. Despite how it presents itself, there is sufficient research to show that there are substantial changes that occur in an individual's brain during and after pregnancy. These changes can have adverse effects on mental health and how one cares for a new baby. Read below to learn more.
"Mom Brain" or "Mommy Brain" is a term used to describe cognitive changes or lapses in memory and attention that some pregnant individuals may experience during and/or pregnancy. Pregnancy is a complex biological process that involves numerous hormonal and physiological changes in a woman's body, including the brain. These changes are part of the body's adaptation to support the growth and development of the fetus, as well as the subsequent caregiving responsibilities after childbirth.
Common Symptoms of "Mom Brain":
Memory Lapses - Pregnant individuals may report moments of forgetfulness or difficulty in recalling names, details, or everyday tasks. This can include forgetting where they placed objects, missing appointments, or struggling to remember simple things.
Attention and Focus - Some individuals may find it challenging to maintain the same level of focus or attention as they did before pregnancy. Distractions might seem more pronounced, and multitasking may become more difficult.
Word Retrieval - Pregnant individuals may occasionally experience difficulty in finding the right words or expressing themselves verbally. This can manifest as a temporary lapse in vocabulary.
Processing Speed - The speed at which information is processed may slow down for some pregnant individuals, leading to a perception of cognitive sluggishness.
While it's a widely recognized phenomenon, scientific research on the topic is not entirely conclusive on how or why it affects certain people. Below is a list of factors that may contribute to these cognitive changes:
Hormonal Fluctuations: Pregnancy involves significant hormonal changes, including elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts can affect neurotransmitters and may influence cognitive function.
Sleep Disturbances: Many pregnant individuals experience changes in sleep patterns, including difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep disturbances can impact cognitive performance and contribute to feelings of mental fog.
Stress and Fatigue: The physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, coupled with the anticipation of impending parenthood, can lead to increased stress and fatigue. These factors can affect cognitive function.
Adaptation to New Priorities: Pregnancy often marks a significant life transition, requiring individuals to adapt to new priorities and responsibilities. The cognitive changes may reflect a shifting focus toward preparing for parenthood.
It's no surprise that the stress of new motherhood combined with the cognitive changes that pregnancy brings causes "Mom Brain." While the extent and duration of these cognitive changes can vary by person, the effects can make it difficult to adapt to new circumstances and caregiving responsibilities after childbirth. Instead of brushing symptoms off as insignificant, support should be more widely available to individuals who wish to seek opportunities that will develop skills and foster confidence and comfort in their new role as mom.