There is brain fog and then there's brain fart, the former being not as serious as the medically-recognized latter. Both happen to people one day or another. Pregnant women, however, tend to suffer from something else. Baby brain.
The term refers to memory errors, poor concentration, and absent-mindedness reported by many women during pregnancy and early motherhood. We're talking forgetting what company you work for when talking to a client, pouring chicken broth into your smoothie instead of almond milk... You know, the good stuff. Even though research on the existence of baby brain is mixed, take a look at some of the stuff pregnant women and their partners post and be the judge of that yourself.
Vicki Broadbent, founder of Honest Mum and author of Mumboss, has also suffered from baby brain. Broadbent found it can last from the very early days in the first trimester of pregnancy to at least the first year after your baby is born. "From unknowingly wearing a dress back to front in public to forgetting an important work meeting (I was out shopping at the time-whoops) and missing my husband's birthday on two separate years when I was pregnant both times (sorry Peter), I can verify that for me, baby brain is real," she told Bored Panda.
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Yvonne S. Butler Tobah, an M.D. who treats high-risk pregnancies, highlighted a recent review of 20 studies assessing more than 700 pregnant and 500 nonpregnant women. It concluded that general cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were in fact significantly poorer in pregnant women.
"Other research suggests that memory problems during pregnancy aren't as widespread as believed, but can be seen in women experiencing depression shortly before childbirth," the doctor explained.
"If you're pregnant or a new mother, don't assume that you're experiencing a cognitive decline."
"Biologically, it makes sense that you might be more forgetful during pregnancy as your body is working hard creating life and you're no doubt, the most tired you've ever been," Broadbent said. "This will prepare you for the sleep deprivation that kicks in once the baby is born hence why the baby brain prevails.
"Your body and mind must go into survival mode as it prioritizes making a baby, meaning that a few, far less important things (like your husband's birthday) might inevitably fall by the wayside. What is more important than creating life, anyway? Don't sweat it. I feel you garner superpowers while pregnant and when you become a Mom: the maternal instinct is almost magical (I've known when my kids have temperatures or are unwell from another room in the middle of the night) and I've personally experience heightened senses including precision peripheral vision which has prevented them from danger many times (e.g. stopped my then-toddler being run over years ago in the supermarket car park). We mamas might be tired but we are STRONG!"
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However, beyond the relationship between pregnancy and memory, some researchers are looking at the ways pregnancy might positively change a woman's brain. Butler Tobah pointed out another recent study which compared the MRI scans of women's brains before pregnancy and after giving birth to the brain scans of women who have never given birth. The scans of women after pregnancy showed changes in brain structure that might help women adapt to motherhood.