You’ve lost your keys again. And, for the third time this week, you found your cell phone in the fridge. No, you’re not going mad – it’s just pregnancy brain.
Pregnancy brain, also called momnesia or pregnesia, is the forgetfulness and brain fog many pregnant women experience. It’s a real and frustrating hallmark of pregnancy, affecting as many as 50 to 80% of expectant moms.
If you suffer from pregnancy brain, you may forget why you walked into a room, where you put your purse, whether you switched off the washing machine, or leave objects in strange places.
A gush of hormones
Pregnancy unleashes a flood of hormones in your body. These hormones trigger major physiological changes, and interfere with your thinking and memory. On top of that, surging hormone levels can make you tired. Fatigue can shorten your attention span and slow your thought process.
Not getting enough good quality sleep, which is a common struggle for many pregnant women, may also play a role. Sleep deprivation and disruption can affect how mentally sharp you feel, and lead to memory loss. It can make you more anxious and stressed, which can impact your ability to concentrate and remember things.
New priorities may also help explain why pregnancy has you feeling like a ditz. You may spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about your baby, and how motherhood will change your life. These thoughts can be overwhelming and distracting, and may leave you feeling forgetful and absentminded.
On the upside: some experts believe that memory change during pregnancy is evolutionary. It’s been suggested that pregnancy brain helps you forget other things, and focus more on caring for your child. This may prepare you to become a better mother.
According to Dr Laura Glynn, a psychologist at Chapman University in California, even the slightest movement of the foetus in the womb can affect a woman’s brain and make her become more sensitive. This may help mothers become more attuned with their baby and prime them for caregiving.
The good news is that pregnancy brain is temporary, and doesn’t reshape or rewire your brain.
How to mind your mind
- Work from a to-do list. Track your daily doings and mark them off once you’ve completed them. Stick Post-it notes around the house to help you remember simple things.
- Set reminders on your cell phone, tablet or laptop.
- Delegate as much as you can so you’ll have fewer things to remember or worry about.
- Get a dose of choline. This mineral is the building block for the memory-forming brain chemical, acetylcholine. Fill up with eggs, chicken, fish, spinach, and peanuts.
- Up your Omega-3s. This nutrient is essential for brain health, and may help boost memory. Find Omega-3s in salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
- Avoid trying to do everything at once. Focus on one task at a time. You’ll feel more clearheaded and less forgetful.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is needed to learn and make memories, and stay mentally alert.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself when you do forget things. Take a deep breath and try to keep calm. Stressing will only cloud your preggy brain even more.
- Laugh it off. Have a sense of humour about this airhead stage, and get your partner to do the same.