‘Mom brain’ is a condition that many mothers experience after giving birth. You may feel like you’re losing your mind but know that you’re not alone. This condition is very real and there’s a scientific reason why it happens. Below, we’ll delve deeper into what ‘mom brain’ or ‘maternal brain’ really is and why so many women experience it during the fourth trimester.
Think You Have ‘Mom Brain’? Here’s Why You Probably Do
After giving birth, do you often walk into another room and completely forget what you were looking for? Have you accidentally called your best friend by the wrong name? Do you forget appointments?
No, this isn’t early-onset Alzheimers. This is “mom brain”.
It may sound like a fictional condition but it impacts half of all women after they have given birth. A study carried out by researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona has proven that being pregnant and giving birth can impact a woman’s cognitive functioning.
Hormonal changes after birth make a postpartum mother’s brain susceptible to change, especially in terms of gray matter. For your brain to better process the needs of your baby (e.g. develop a maternal instinct), other brain regions are ‘sacrificed’ or shrink, such as concentration and short-term memory.
This results in a brain fog sensation that many women experience during pregnancy and the fourth trimester, e.g. mommy brain.
These hormonal changes combined with the sleep deprivation experienced when caring for a newborn baby all play a role in the forgetfulness that many mothers feel. While these changes ultimately make us more responsive parents, they can often make women feel disoriented.
Mommy Brain Symptoms: Top Signs to Look Out For
While fogginess or forgetfulness are the telltale signs of the maternal brain, there are other curious symptoms that women and their partners should be aware of. You must remember that this condition is common and there is no need to worry. However, if you are concerned about the symptoms you’re having, go and speak to your doctor.
Common mommy brain symptoms and signs include:
- Losing your train of thought
- Inability to focus on tasks
- Frequently misplacing objects
- A general feeling of brain fog
- Changes to thought processes and emotions
Any one of these signs can make a woman question what is happening to them. After giving birth can feel extremely worrying for mothers, especially if this is their first child. While mom brain can’t be avoided, there are simple strategies that parents can put in place to help manage it better.
Top 6 Strategies to Help New Moms Cope
Many bodily changes happen during motherhood, and most are for the better. However, the neurological changes that occur can be hardest to deal with initially. As a new mother, don’t be afraid to ask for help or search for ways to manage your “forgetfulness”. Below, are some tried and tested strategies for dealing with mom brain:
1. Be kind to yourself:
Beating yourself up because your memory isn’t as good as it was before you were pregnant is not going to do you any favors. Looking after a newborn baby is hard work and you need to recognize that. So, the next time you spend ten minutes looking for your phone when it’s in your hand, remember that this is only a temporary part of motherhood.
2. Make to-do lists:
If you struggle with completing tasks around the house or picking up everything that you need in the grocery store, then a to-do list will be your best friend. Whenever you remember something, take a note of it on a piece of paper or in an app. This will get you in the habit of jotting everything important down even if you forget it a moment later.
3. Make sleep a priority:
Remember how everyone says that new mothers should sleep whenever the baby is sleeping. This isn’t just to help you cope with sleep deprivation, but also, it can support your working memory and cognitive skills.
4. Exercise your body and brain:
Exercise shouldn’t just be physical but also mental too. New mothers should aim to incorporate at least 30-minutes of moderate exercise into their routines three times a week. Additionally, make sure to engage in activities that challenge your memory and thinking. Exercising both the body and the brain regularly will have a positive impact on cognitive functioning.
5. Talk to others:
Living with ‘mom brain’ can make new mothers feel very alone, which can be a terrifying experience. Yet, many women experience this. Make sure to reach out to other women that have children and talk about how you’re feeling. In most cases, you will realize that others have gone through the same situation.
6. Focus on the positives
When you’re a new mother who is sleep-deprived and overwhelmed it can be easy to focus on the negatives. However, there are far more positives that come with motherhood. Make a conscious effort to take note of how your life has improved now that you are a mother. Looking at mommy brain through a big picture lens will help you to see how insignificant that time you accidentally wore mismatching socks is in the grand scheme of things.
As embarrassing as mommy brain symptoms are, they are more positive than anything else. This condition is a symbol of your journey into motherhood and ultimately, makes you a more attentive and responsive mother. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
About the Author
Vivvi is an employer-sponsored child care and early childhood education provider. Vivvi meets families where they are by offering programs across the country including in-office, in-home, on-campus, and virtual tutoring.
Their early learning program is suitable for children aged 6 weeks to preschool age and focuses on fostering each child’s natural curiosity through their inquiry-led curriculum. Providing parents with peace of mind, Vivvi offers flexible drop-off and pick-up times along with trained, passionate teachers.
Read more about Vivvi’s early learning center.