As those who know me will confirm, pregnancy brain hit me hard when I was preggers.
Sure, it can be funny when you find your misplaced smartphone in the freezer, and it is all too easy to laugh off forgetting why the heck you are even at the shop, nevermind what you are there to buy.
Sadly, pregnancy brain was less of the ‘funny’ and more of the ‘sucky’ in my case.
As an organised person by nature, it was tough adjusting to my new lack of memory and it genuinely impacted my day to day life.
As I worked full time all throughout my pregnancy and suffered from pregnancy brain, my already shaky confidence in the workplace was knocked down a couple of notches – I was less verbally coherent, forgot simple things and, on particularly bad days, couldn’t even get through my daily tasks.
Two years on, I still feel like my brain is not what it was before I fell pregnant – but I do comfort myself by believing I gave the ‘best bits of my brain’ to Arabella.
But anyhoo, no time to cry over lost brain matter – let’s talk facts!
What Is Pregnancy Brain?
I keep it simple and do not write about anything I don’t understand and I doubt my readers want me to drone on about grey matter, cognitive function and a bunch of other lardy-dah terms.
Also (adorably) known as ‘momnesia’ or ‘baby brain’, pregnancy brain is a term used to describe the bouts of memory loss, confusion, issues concentrating, lack of brain-to-mouth coordination and absent-mindedness many pregnant women experience.
The overall topic of pregnancy brain proves to be a bit of a chin scratcher – with the very existence of it being questioned!
Research on this matter has been conducted but yields mixed results and whilst pregnancy brain is not yet officially classed as a medical condition, Daddydaims will vouch for the legitimacy of this undiagnosed pregnancy plague.
In fact, a whole lot of women will vouch for this. Wanting a few fancy figures of my own, I turned to the trusty momma’s over at #MomLife and Mamaood Gauteng and out of 355 women, only 28 of them have not experienced pregnancy brain – meaning 327 women have experienced pregnancy brain.
Luzandri Barnard mentioned ‘Still have it 7 months after birth!’, Sophia Meintjes admits ‘It’s been over a year and I still got mommy brain’ and Elrise Myburgh topped the conversation off with ‘First one no, but second one definitely’
The plot thickens.
Why Do We Get Pregnancy Brain?
Given the fact that it isn’t ‘proven’ real – it is no surprise that nobody knows exactly why pregnancy brain happens, it’s causes or why it affects some people and not others.
There is a bunch of research that, essentially, states that the phenomenon that is pregnancy brain is due to the surge of hormones women experience during pregnancy.
Here are some possible causes of pregnancy brain
A shift in thinking
Finding out that you are pregnant impacts every aspect of your life and your maternal instincts kick in from the word ‘go’.
Your thoughts can be consumed with your impending motherhood, your baby’s health and safe arrival and getting everything for this little miracle.
As exciting as the prospect of motherhood is, it is also a bit frightening and can be stressful.
Research shows that short-term stress and memory issues are directly related
Lack of sleep
Sleep deprivation is also known to have an effect on your memory (saw that one coming!)
During pregnancy many women struggle with getting a good nights sleep, whether it is due to your mind not settling, your tummy being uncomfortably large or your trusty bladder doing it’s thang and sending you running!
During pregnancy, the production of progesterone and estrogen increases like crazy – and both of these hormones are linked to memory.
“However, these hormones also cause the growth of new brain circuits that help mothers focus on the baby when she’s born,” says Louann Brizendine, M.D., neuropsychiatrist and author of The Female Brain.
So, basically, the brain is getting ready to deal with a newborn and this shift can lead to forgetfulness.
Links have been found between iron and memory. It’s known that a common effect of iron deficiency or anaemia is forgetfulness.
From around the twelfth week of pregnancy, a baby consumes a great deal of mom’s iron reserves and leaves little for poor old mom.
Arabella was born with an iron deficiency and so I think it’s no wonder I had such hectic pregnancy brain.
How To Kick Pregnancy Brains Butt
The very first tool you need to help kick pregnancy brains butt is the assurance that it is an honest condition that a huge amount of pregnant ladies experience.
Diagnosed or not, you cannot ignore the fact that around 80% of pregnant women experience some symptoms of pregnancy brain.
You are not going crazy.
Nor are you weak.
It’s totally normal.
Inexplicable, but normal.
Here’s how to deal with pregnancy brain:
Get plenty of sleep
Trust me, catch as many z’s as you can before your baby arrives, you’re gonna need it!
Getting enough sleep is incredibly important as you need heaps of energy to help you grow and carry an actual human inside you.
Aim for a solid 8 hours to ensure you wake feeling rested, refreshed and ready for the day.
Set alarms and switch those notifications ON
Input eeeeverything into your phone or computer – and schedule alerts/alarms for important meetings, tasks, and general reminders.
Keep a daily calendar
Take it day by day – either use the calendar app on your phone, or carry a planner with you.
Once a week, set up your calendar – I would list the daily tasks I needed to do each day that week and add the odd extra item here and there daily when needed.
‘Home’ your Belongings
Settle on a specific place to be a home for the things you use often – like keys, your handbag and notebook/planner.
I found that a fruit bowl (minus the fruit) on the counter was a lovely little spot for the smaller of my important items.
Try using mnemonic devices
Forget (heh) trying to remember what you have already forgotten and focus on taking in new information.
For example, when you meet someone new, think of an association to help you remember the person’s name, like, if you meet someone called Candice, imagine her chomping on some candy.
Write it Down
Write down everything in a small notebook.
Your thoughts, tasks, lists, important dates – pretty much anything you would want to recall.
I swear by my bullet journal and feel assured knowing everything is all in one place.
When you park your car in a large or confusingly layed-out parking lot, take a photo of the location with your phone so you do not forget.
Take a photo of the contents of your fridge in case you lose your grocery list.
You get my drift.
Working out (obvs with your healthcare provider’s approval) not only keeps you healthy during pregnancy but can also sharpen your memory and aid a good nights sleep, increasing your alertness during the day.
Studies show that memory is sharpest straight after a workout.
Call On Your Village
Not so long ago, moms-to-be relied on the help of those around them to help them with pregnancy and motherhood.
Tell your partner, family, or friends how you are feeling and call on them to help lighten your load wherever they can.
Simplify Your Life
Prioritize what’s important right now, and what can be handled later.
Save your energy for the things that matter.
In the grand scheme of things, pregnancy brain is just a (frustrating) part of pregnancy that, luckily, is easy to deal with.
If you have or had pregnancy brain, feel free to leave your own experience, story or tips below!
Momma Tash Xx