You parked your car at the grocery store, only to come out and realize in a sweeping rush of emotion that it has been stolen. You call the cops, and they arrive only to find your vehicle a few rows over, exactly where you parked it to begin with. Or, you made a pot of coffee, but forgot to add the coffee. Have you ever left the house wearing two different shoes?
According to various studies, many women experience what is termed baby brain, during and after pregnancy. Baby brain is as simple as becoming forgetful, flighty and makes you feel like you are losing your mind’ .one slow memory at a time. But before you ‘blame it on baby brain,’ you should know one thing. Extensive research and studies show that the brain capacity during pregnancy and after wards is not diminished at all.
This might make you wonder if the whole thing is just a myth. Like the myth that your nose grows during pregnancy. (That one might just be true) And if it is a myth, why do hundreds of thousands of woman complain that they cannot think straight during pregnancy and that motherhood has turned their normally capable minds into mushrooms? Obviously, there has to be some merit to the claims of baby brain if it happens to so many people, so much of the time, right? The truth might be that motherhood sort of changes your priorities around a bit. Before you only had to concentrate on one thing at a time and now you are trying to multi-task like an Apple computer. You have your hands stirring so many pots at once, that it is easy and natural, for you to be a little less than razor sharp. And, top that off with the fact that while brain capacity isn’t diminished throughout pregnancy or motherhood sleep capacity is. Major sleep studies have linked the lack of sleep, and the lack of deep sleep to a malady of mental dysfunction and even illness. Let’s face it; even if you go to bed if you are pregnant or have children in the house, you somehow never make it to deep sleep. This is precisely why you have the uncanny ability to wake up 2 seconds before your child throws up. And as a result, your daytime hours of mental clarity are threatened by forgetfulness.
Another reason for baby brain is the fact that your hormones are performing a unique three-ring circus with your mind. Suddenly during pregnancy and in the months that follow deliver, you have surges of progesterone and estrogen that are 15 to 40 times more than normal. And of course, we cannot forget the surges of oxytocin that strike directly after delivery in order to shrink the uterus back down to the size. Oxytocin is a fundamental culprit in baby brain and can even lead to PPD and other post pregnancy disorders. Considering the hormonal cocktail your body is experiencing, it’s really a true miracle that you can think at all, especially since hormones have a direct affect on the circuiting of your neurological function.
One interesting study out of Harvard, also suggests that pregnancy or baby brain is a survival instinct as well. Your mind becomes so focused on the baby blissfully forgetting where you sat your coffee cup down, so that you are forced to concentrate on the needs of the baby first and foremost. Calling your friend back doesn’t become a mental priority anymore when you have a baby to feed, and so on. Perhaps this is our body’s innate way of redirecting us to the things that matter most in life.
Stress is also a factor. When the body is stressed out, so many hormones are being released into the body and your body goes into a fight and flight mode. This greatly impairs mental function. Even if you are super excited about having a baby, and about being a mom you likely consume a lot of your mind space with worry, fret, and planning, which long term can cause stress on the mind and the body. In other words, you are a good mom, and you have natural worries and concerns about all the changes occurring in your life and you simply react to them by being a little less than sharp in other areas of your life. What’s more important? Forgetting where you set down your car keys or forgetting to pack your child or lunch, or give your newborn a bottle?
So how do you recover from baby brain? Many moms will tell you that you don’t. That having children forever affects your mental capacity. Truth is, that in all likelihood you are actually sharper now, and more aware and more intuitive than ever before in your life. So give yourself a break. If you have certain things that need to be done start writing them down, and try to make getting some undisturbed sleep a priority in your life. Exercise is also good for the mind, and helps to improve your energy and stamina, which are definitely essential in the scope of motherhood. Most of all, do not beat yourself up over the lack of memory or the frustrating that your forgetfulness is causing you. After all, no one ever transitions into motherhood with all her sanity in tact!
When all else fails, blame it on baby brain! Really, who could call you out or be mad at you for forgetting a few of the minor details in your life. You have a baby to take care of now and the bottom line is THAT should be your priority.