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Pregnancy brain-when does it start & what causes it

February 29, 2024

Have you heard pregnant women blaming their pregnancy for their forgetfulness? Many women seem to have a tough time remembering or recollecting details or information around the time they are pregnant. Are they just not focusing enough or is their pregnancy really the one to blame here? Read on to find out.

What is Pregnancy Brain?

When you get pregnant, you are ready for various physical changes such as a growing belly, an increase in weight, swollen ankles, changes in skin and hair, etc.

When hormones can impact all these, what about the brain? The surge in pregnancy hormones can make it difficult to focus on details, remember things or even pay attention to multiple things at once as you did before pregnancy.

Insomnia – a sleep disorder that is very common among pregnant women. Lack of good sleep, when your body is busy growing a human being, can lead to brain fog, forgetfulness, and lack of focus. This impact on the pregnant woman’s brain is more commonly known as the pregnancy brain.

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What Causes Pregnancy Brain?

While many pregnant women complain of pregnancy brain, there is not much scientific data to back up the claim.

Scientific studies have mixed results in this regard. Some studies show pregnant women in fact experience a decline in cognitive performance, especially in their third trimester. On the other hand, some studies show pregnant women’s cognitive performance is as good as other non-pregnant women.

So, the exact causes of pregnancy brain is not very clear. However, multiple theories believe the pregnancy brain causes could be as follows:

  1. Hormonal Fluctuations – The surge and dip in hormones can cause physiological changes that can even affect the brain.
  2. Sleep Issues – Lack of proper sleep can affect the functioning capability of the brain.
  3. Stress & Anxiety – Stress and anxiety about the pregnancy and the near future can cause thoughts to waver and result in regular distractions.
  4. Changes in Brain Structure – Yes, some studies show that pregnant women experience a change in their brain structure that can even last up to 6 years after delivery.
  5. Too Much to do – When you are pregnant, your mind and body are doing more, getting ready to support the baby. Adding more to your to-do list in a short span of time can affect brain functioning.

What are Pregnancy Brain Symptoms?

Pregnancy brain symptoms are very similar to general forgetfulness. If you are pregnant and notice a sudden decline in your cognitive abilities like multi-tasking, remembering small details, recollecting dates, or certain conversations, you may be experiencing pregnancy brain. You may take more time than before to recollect details, you may even “blank out” at times when you try to recollect some details from the past.

All of the above can be attributed to the hormonal changes and change in perspective that pregnancy brings.

When Does Pregnancy Brain Start to Show?

There is no fixed timeline for pregnancy brain. Many pregnant women start noticing changes in their memory and their mental capacity as early as the first trimester itself. Some women notice no remarkable change throughout pregnancy.

If you are suffering from a pregnancy brain, you may start noticing small changes anytime during your pregnancy. It may continue to remain small or improve when you put in the right effort or even worsen as your pregnancy progresses.

How Long Does Pregnancy Brain Last?

Since pregnancy hormones influence the “pregnancy brain”, there is no specific time frame for the pregnancy brain or symptoms to last. While the symptoms can last throughout pregnancy and even up to 6 months postpartum for some women, some women notice an improvement in their brain function within a few days after delivery.

Also Read : Swelling of the Ankles and Feet During Pregnancy

Can You Cure Pregnancy Brain?

Pregnancy brain is not a disease. It is a condition caused due to the hormonal changes in the body. As you cannot control these pregnancy-related hormonal changes, you cannot “cure” pregnancy brain.

You can, however, take steps to improve your brain function if you are suffering from pregnancy brain. Improving your diet, getting more sleep and reducing stress, can help improve brain function both during and after pregnancy.

How Can You Manage With Pregnancy Brain?

If you are suffering from a severe case of pregnancy brain, where you seem to be forgetting even trivial things required for your day-to-day life, try these tips:

  1. Write down everything you don’t want to or can’t afford to forget. You can check this list every morning to know what has to be done for the day and recheck every night before going to bed, to ensure you have finished those tasks.
  2. Set alarms and reminders on your smartphone or any gadget you carry with you. These can be perfect reminders to help you do things on time – like taking medicines, doctor’s appointments, etc.
  3. In case of an important event or a big task, keep people around you informed. Your partner, sibling, or any near and dear one can remind you.
  4. Meditation can help you relax physically and mentally. When your brain relaxes, it tends to retain and recollect more information.
  5. Don’t feel embarrassed if someone points out you have forgotten something, instead get help if needed, to complete the task. Remember, it is not your fault and there is no point in blaming yourself and getting stressed over it.
  6. Eat a well-balanced diet and get quality sleep. You can increase your nutrient intake and follow a proper bedtime routine to improve your sleep quality, which in turn can improve your brain function.

Key Takeaway

Pregnancy brain is a condition many women experience during pregnancy. Just because there is no solid scientific data or a cure for this condition, doesn’t mean it is not true. If you experience symptoms of pregnancy brain, be proactive and take small steps to help you remember and focus better. Your brain function will improve as your hormones come back to balance after delivery

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