Many women report becoming forgetful during pregnancy. So if you find yourself hunting for the car keys more often, or missing important dates, then welcome to “baby brain”. Here’s the lowdown on those memory-lapse moments:
Evidence as to whether or not baby brain actually exists is conflicting. One Australian study found pregnant women and new mothers showed no decline in cognitive abilities when compared with non-pregnant women. Other research concluded that pregnant women performed markedly worse than non-pregnant women when it came to remembering to perform future tasks.
Many experts suggest memory lapses are down to a shift in focus during pregnancy rather than brain changes. In other words, you’re more busy thinking about your little one right now, than paying attention to where you parked the car. Oops. It’s not all bad, though – yes you might be a bit scatty right now, but your brainpower will have improved in other areas. One study found that pregnant women were better at detecting threatening stimuli than non-pregnant women, for example.
Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on cognitive performance. If you’re struggling to get eight hours a night – which most pregnant women do – then it’s understandable if you’re a bit forgetful right now.
Accept that you’re going to be a bit forgetful for a little while and compensate by writing lists, leaving notes and using the reminder settings on your phone. Set a timer when you’re cooking, and don’t put off errands when they come to mind – research shows even brief delays can substantially reduce the chances of remembering to carry out tasks.
Rest assured your full mental powers will soon return. Studies even show grey matter volume increases in a number of areas of the brain following childbirth, and that mums are better at problem solving, handling stress and completing certain memory tasks. Your ability to multi-task will certainly improve dramatically when the baby arrives!
* We can only give general advice, but as each pregnancy can vary individually, please contact your gynecologist in case of questions or doubts.