We’re all familiar with the term ‘Baby Brain’ – the light hearted tease we’re given by work colleagues when we walk into a room and forget what we came in for, the forgetting our lunch again, locking ourselves out the house or turning up to work on a Saturday.
“It’s BABY BRAIN” they’ll all jest – but is it really a thing?
Does baby brain really exist and what is the science behind it?
Whilst ‘Baby Brain’ specifically isn’t a scientifically proven condition, there are many physical and mental changes that occur during pregnancy that can cause a range of cognitive changes such as:
- Poor concentration – Difficulty focusing on daily tasks, being regularly distracted, glazing over or finding your mind wandering during important tasks.
- Being absent minded – forgetting things or leaving things at home
- Loss of memory / brain fog – forgetting people’s names, missing key dates or even big occasions.
Why do we experience baby brain?
During pregnancy and early motherhood, your body is going through a huge amount of emotional and physical changes and these surges of hormones, insomnia or sleep issues can also make you feel out of sorts.
Sleep deprivation alone can cause many symptoms (during pregnancy or otherwise!) and there is a reason why it has been used as a form of torture!
After having previously being used to a solid 8 hours sleep a night, waking regularly to urinate, tossing and turning trying to get comfortable or being kept awake by Braxton Hicks, labor anxiety or ever-changing birth plans can leave Moms to be feeling pretty exhausted. A lack of sleep can leave you irritable, unfocused, lethargic and weak – which can all have a big impact on our ability to focus on the task in hand.
Stress and anxiety can also have a lot to answer for. When you’re expecting a baby, there is suddenly so much more to think about! This alone can be very overwhelming. From details of antenatal appointments to budgeting for your new arrival, picking your birthing partner and writing your birth plan, it is no wonder your mental load increases!
Having so much more to remember and of course the fact that your priorities shift somewhat, can mean that things inevitably fall off the bottom of the list or get missed. This is perfectly natural and understandable – so don’t be too hard on yourself!
How can you help baby brain?
Firstly, although this is somewhat easier said than done – try and get as much sleep as possible. Accept that at times, you will need to go to bed earlier or have a nap at the weekends to even get close to your pre pregnancy energy levels.
Try and eat well – avoiding high sugar foods that pick you up but can then cause a worse sugar crash in the late afternoon. Drink lots of water to ensure stay hydrated and stay as active as possible; helping your body and mind reenergise throughout the day.
De-stress – Try and stay calm. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and accept that this is a big time of change. Try and look after your mental health by ensuring some acts of self care throughout the day. Whether that’s a warm bath in the evenings, a book before bed or a guided meditation to help you switch off at the end of the day. Don’t underestimate the need to look after yourself as well as everyone else.
Does baby brain ever stop?
There are some that will argue that baby brain never truly leaves you, when in reality the hormones and physical challenges that cause some of the symptoms certainly do. The truth is, you are entering a new phase of your life where everything will feel new for a while; and with that comes a greater mental load that you simply need to learn to juggle. No one said it was going to be easy; but trust me, it will be worth it in the end!