From forgetfulness to brain fog and a lack of concentration, pregnant women have long complained of baby brain, but what is it and does it really exist?
At some point during pregnancy you might find yourself feeling like you’re losing the plot.
Misplacing your mobile phone, forgetting appointments, and not remembering what you had for dinner the night before are just a few common symptoms of the cognitive struggles that women face during pregnancy, and after birth.
While there’s no scientific evidence to tell you when pregnancy brain will start, research and stories from expectant mothers suggest that pregnancy brain can start as early as the first trimester and continue up to 6 months’ post birth.
What causes baby brain?
While the causes of baby brain aren’t 100% clear, researchers have come up with several theories:
Pregnant women experience a surge of hormones in their first trimester and throughout pregnancy which can trigger huge mental and physical changes and can often lead to brain and memory problems too.
More than half of women report sleep problems during pregnancy.
A consistent lack of sleep has been medically proven to impact cognitive function and memory.
Stress and anxiety
Several studies have shown that pregnant women report higher levels of stress and anxiety, as well as depression, and this research has shown that people suffering with these mental health conditions struggle concentrating more.
Changes in brain structure
While research is limited, most studies suggest that women do experience a decline in a variety of cognitive skills during pregnancy.
A 2014 study showed that pregnant and postpartum women displayed poorer memory skills than non-pregnant women in a variety of areas.
What can pregnant women do about pregnancy brain?
While pregnancy brain can feel as though it’s lasting forever, rest assured that your memory lapses will eventually be restored. For now it’s best to focus on things one at a time, and focus on you.
While it can be frustrating, there are a few simple steps that you can take to improve your cognitive function.
Changes to your sleep throughout pregnancy and parenting can be stressful, and research has shown that a lack of sleep can lead to poor memory function.
Taking a few steps to quiet your mind and create a relaxing and restful environment can help you to improve your cognitive function.
Helping your baby sleep through the night can in turn help you get a better nights sleep.
You may have food cravings before you give birth, but in order to improve the functioning of your brain, we suggest adding in a few super foods to your next meal.
Foods high in vitamins have been proven to improve a woman’s memory and executive functioning, so before you next go shopping, consider adding the below to your list:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon and other fatty fish are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids that help to improve brain function.
- Blueberries. Deliciously sweet and high in antioxidants that help to combat brain fog, blueberries have been proven to help boost communication between brain cells and improve memory problems.
- Spinach. Leafy green vegetables are full of Vitamins C, K, and other great nutrients that can help improve your cognitive ability and executive functioning
Drinking water is incredibly important, and pregnant women should aim to drink 8-12 glasses per day to help aid digestion, keep the amniotic fluid healthy and keep memory lapses at bay.
Dehydration can have adverse effects on your ability to concentrate, so ensure you’re getting enough every day to stop pregnancy-related forgetfulness.
If you’re struggling remembering appointments or staying focused, consider setting reminders on your phone.
This will help to take the stress out of everyday life and set you up for success throughout your pregnancy.
Play brain training games
Just like you need to exercise to keep in good shape, your brain also needs mental exercise too.
Crossword puzzles, numerical games like Sudoku and memory games will get you using and improving your brain.
Repeat things out loud
It might seem strange, but something easy you can do at home to help you remember is repeating things out loud. When someone gives you an appointment time, or says something to you that you need to remember, repeat it out loud to yourself.
Research has shown that repeating things out loud helps to transfer the information from short-term memory to permanent storage.
Form everyday habits
Forming everyday habits can be a great way of remembering things.
For example, it could be something easy as placing a hook by the front door so you can pop your keys on it, or if you go to the shops regularly, parking near a similar place each time so you don’t forget where you’re parked.
Baby brain can have the ability to make you feel unlike your normal self. You might make a few simple mistakes or temporarily struggle with your memory.
Once you’ve given birth it usually goes away and you will feel like yourself again.
In the meantim