Basically, the phenomenon known as, “Mommy Brain” or “Pregnancy Brain” describes what happens to women during their pregnancy and after they give birth. New and expecting mothers tend to find themselves forgetful and somewhat absentminded in a way that is unfamiliar to them. Simple ideas become harder to grasp, the fine details begin to slip through their fingers, some may even struggle to formulate complete sentences. A few new mothers may even start demonstrating completely bizarre behavior, like cutting apples and biting into onions.
When new mother’s start forgetting where they kept the essentials like wallet, keys or mobile, it could add to their already existing stress, and this is when you should start contemplating on gifting her a Bluetooth tracker! This sounds a bit funny, but the absent mindedness can become very frustrating really quickly. And the last thing anybody wants to face is a frustrated new mother.
What exactly is Mommy Brain?
For years, mommy brain was something that we knew happened but could never really explain why it happened. It has been very hard to pin down the cause because there are so many external factors that can affect a new or expecting mother’s mental functionality and capacity. At the end of the day, being a mom, especially a new mom is stressful and requires a lot of work. It is pretty standard for the course for new parents to get less sleep and become overworked. Babies tend to cry a lot, wake up in the middle of the night, and require a lot of attention. All of that works together to distract new mothers from the tasks at hand and saps away their energy. It’s a vicious cycle.
But new research by Anita Holdcroft, M.D. suggests that there may be more to pregnancy brain than simply being overworked and sleep deprived. Holdcroft scanned the brains of 10 pregnant women in their final trimester and six months into their postpartum assuming she would see swelling. What she actually saw was that their brains were getting smaller. It turns out that your brain really does experience changes during the course of your pregnancy – it shrinks. The subjects’ brains were smaller over the course of their pregnancy than 6 months after their delivery. Researchers still are determining how much this shrinkage actually contributes to Mommy brain, but it’s highly suggestive that it probably contributes to the issue.
Further research suggests that brain shrinkage may not be the only contributor to Mommy Brain either. Don’t forget that an expecting mother and new mothers are both feeding two. It is not uncommon that these women end up being malnourished in some way, as the baby receives all the best nutrients first. It’s this combination of brain shrinkage, lack of sleep, and malnutrition that ultimately creates Mommy brain.
How to reduce the effect of Mommy Brain?
For the most part, pregnancy brain will disappear on its own, given enough time. Eventually new mothers will get more rest as their child grows, and they will become less malnourished as the child begins to eat on its own. The brain will also return to normalcy during the postpartum period, so you don’t have to worry that you’ll be in a permanently forgetful mindset for the rest of your life. New mothers can reduce the effect of pregnancy brain however, by paying special attention to their diet.
Although mommy brain will disappear on its own, you really can’t afford to slack off for even a moment as a new parent. If you want to get back to your peak sooner, start by eating properly. Never forget, that as a new mom you’re eating for two. Make sure you are consuming all the necessary protein, carbs, and essential vitamins.
That’s not all though; new mothers also need to make sure that they are consuming proportionate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Studies on pregnant rats have shown that a singular reproductive cycle can deplete their DHA levels by 18%. DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, is a vitally important omega-3 fat that that impacts how neuron signals are sent and received. Basically, it affects how well your brain is able to operate. Mothers need it and developing babies need it. That’s why a diet heavy in omega-3’s is extremely important while pregnant and during the postpartum period. Make sure you’re consuming fish, fish oils, nuts, or seeds at every meal so that you’re meeting your daily DHA requirement.