Pregnancy Brain: Why You Have It and How to Combat It

December 05, 2018

Pregnancy Brain: Why You Have It and How to Combat It

The struggle is real for many expectant moms – between 50 and 80 percent of expecting women have memory or focus problems. Research has proven to be unclear about what causes this brain fog in pregnancy.

The prospect of pregnancy brain makes sense: you could be distracted with excitement or worry about the new major life change and adventure a new baby may bring. Additionally, anxiety and stress can inhibit your ability to fully concentrate and remember things. Plus, that pregnancy fatigue likely does not help!

Scientifically speaking, a flood of hormones surge through your body when pregnant, which triggers major changes physiologically. It remains unclear how this affects the brain and memory though as the research behind this theory is mixed.

Some research has revealed that women have worse memory when pregnant while other studies show that it only gets worse in the third trimester. Yet other research shows that pregnant women perform just as well on tests as those who are not pregnant.

What You Can Do About Pregnancy Brain

There are a few small changes you can make to keep yourself from feeling like a total flaky mama. Below are a few tips for helping you to remember what is most important.

  • Be sure to store important objects in a specific place, such as your car keys.
  • Keep a daily calendar, whether it is on an app on your phone or in a small planner you carry.
  • Take photos. Take shots of where you parked your car if in a large lot or of slides at meetings, business cards, event flyers and other important things you need to remember.
  • Use a note-taking app to keep track of important notes and reminders. Include photos, web page links or voice recordings. Great app options include Google Keep, OneNote, Simplenote, and Evernote.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You need sleep to have the energy to grow and carry a baby as much as you do to be alert mentally and to refresh your memory daily.
  • Exercise. Regular workouts can sharpen your memory and help you sleep better at night, which can increase your level of alertness during the day.
  • Use mnemonic devices to remember the names of new people you meet.
  • Set reminders and notification alarms. Make use of that calendar on your phone and schedule alerts for appointments or tasks.
  • Keep a notebook handy. Write everything down in a little notebook so you can keep everything in one place, which can make it easier to refresh your memory.
  • Scale back. Take a break from doing everything at once and decipher between what is necessary and what is not. Prioritize the things that are most important to you so you are not overdoing it.

It is normal to experience a little forgetfulness during pregnancy. However, you know yourself and your body. If you feel you are having a lot of difficulty thinking or concentrating and you feel down or have a new loss of interest in things you normally enjoy (and have felt this way for at least two weeks), you may be battling depression. If you feel unusually overwhelmed or sad, talk to your doctor so you can get help.

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