You’ve likely heard of or experienced baby brain in your journey through motherhood. Forgetting where you put your phone, losing your train of thought halfway through a sentence and putting your car keys in the fridge are all part of being pregnant and having a newborn. But what is baby brain and how can it affect you?
Baby brain has been widely disputed due to not enough evidence supporting the phenomenon however, a recent study by Deakin University found that overall cognitive functioning was poorer in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. The researchers studied over 1200 women taking part in 20 studies testing their cognitive functioning, memory and executive functioning (attention to detail, planning and problem solving).
“The declines start to happen between the first and the second trimester, and then look like they stabilise but are most obvious in the third trimester,” senior author Professor Linda Byrne said. It looks like one of the reasons you get baby brain is because your brain is busy working on the things associated with having a child, like bonding and emotional intelligence.
What are the signs and symptoms of having a baby brain?
4 out of 5 pregnant women report having symptoms like confusion, forgetfulness and poor concentration so next time you leave your handbag somewhere or forget where you’ve parked your car don’t fear. You’re not in this alone. Most women report feeling “not as sharp” as normal and researchers say that the most noticeable change was the decline of memory performance in the third trimester.
A combination of sleep disturbances, excitement to meet your new baby and hormones can make you feel like you’re being a bit slow but did you know another reason you could be having baby brain symptoms is because the emotional right side of your brain has increased its activity to ensure you’re neurologically attuned to your baby’s facial emotions at birth, so you bond more easily. What’s more, your brain-cell volume and grey matter actually decreases in the third trimester – but don’t panic, it’ll be back to normal soon.
Recommended baby brain remedies
Try using the notes app on your phone. Trying to remember everything when you’re pregnant can be a disaster so leaving the house with shopping lists, your pin number and other useful information can make life that little bit more easy. If you’re always losing things, try to keep a bowl by your front door for your keys, phone and purse – getting into the habit of always keeping those things together in the same place can help prevent any need to turn your entire house upside down because you’ve accidentally put your purse in the freezer.
Doing light exercise can not only help your brain but can help the brain of your unborn child too. Exercise helps stimulate your circulation and promote blood flow and oxygen to your brain. Eating foods that are high in Omega 3 and DHA are not only helpful when you have a big test coming up but can help your brain function throughout pregnancy.