Just So You Know: Pregnancy Brain Is a Real, (And Permanent) Thing

by ParentCo. February 28, 2017

red orange and yellow image of pregnant women with child

If you've been pregnant, you've probably experienced, "pregnancy brain." This results in mindless moments and memory lapses you might not have had a problem with before. For example: Putting milk away in the pantry, walking into a room multiple times just to forget what you went in there for, looking for your cell phone while you're talking on it, mysteriously losing items (frequently), leaving the sink running, letting the dog out and forgetting to let him back in, etc. (I'm guilty of all of these!) Basically, your brain is fried and you do dumb things. Another cute term for it is "momnesia.” My family calls it "P-brain." *Side note: During my second pregnancy, my then three-year-old proudly proclaimed to a store clerk, "My Mommy is a P-brain." Thanks, kid. I couldn't argue with him, though. The good news is there's nothing wrong with you. It's just biology. Research shows that the brain actually shrinks during pregnancy. Not that we need research to prove our situation, but it's nice to know we're not just going crazy, right? A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience revealed that pregnancy causes changes in brain structure and size that remain after delivery. In the study, women underwent MRI brain imaging before becoming pregnant and again after completion of their first pregnancy. The postpartum images showed clear changes in the brain, specifically a reduction in gray matter volume. The hippocampus, which is associated with memory, also shrunk. So, you kind of literally lose your mind. Well then, that explains a lot! Interestingly, the women's partners were also scanned and did not show changes. The gray matter changes remained at the end of the two-year study. I highly doubt things go back to normal after that. You just change the name of it to "mommy brain” and on with life you go, forever accepting your persistent subpar mental state. But, there is a silver lining. Pregnancy affects areas of the brain associated with feelings, empathy, and processing perspectives of others. Scientists believe that this enhances maternal response and may serve to streamline mothering responsibilities and bonding. So if you feel like your brain has turned into scrambled eggs, you're not alone! At least we know who to blame. Thanks a lot, kiddos! But I forgive you. Do you have pregnancy and/or mommy brain? Share your moments below!



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