Have trouble concentrating, or do you forget the slightest thing? No, it's not Alzheimer's (if you are pregnant!) but a condition called Baby Brain. But why do you have Baby Brain, and what can you do about it?
What is Baby Brain?
Baby Brain (also known as Pregnancy Brain or Momnesia) is the poor cognitive function most women experience during pregnancy and sometimes after the birth of their baby. Most pregnant women who suffer from the condition have these symptoms:
- poor concentration
- poor memory (difficulty remembering names)
- difficulty reading
Baby Brain occurs most during the third trimester (when the symptoms are worse!), even though some pregnant women have similar symptoms early on in their pregnancy.
Does Baby Brain Exist?
Yes, research proves it does! For instance, according to a study where researchers scanned the brains of 25 pregnant women and 20 non-pregnant women, loss of grey matter in the brain was greater among the pregnant women than the non-pregnant women.
What Causes Baby Brain?
A number of factors contribute to baby brain. These are:
- Hormonal changes: Typically, pregnancy causes a pregnant woman's hormones to rage, and this leads to a lot of changes in the body, including the brain.
- Lack of sleep: Most women grapple with pregnancy-induced insomnia and experience other sleep issues, such as sleep apnea. Needless to say, prolonged lack of sleep takes its toll on the brain.
- Stress (or fear): Most pregnant women are anxious about a whole lot; from labour to their baby to their health. Stress releases bad hormones that slow down brain function, particularly, memory.
- Changes in the brain's structure: Studies have proved that pregnancy reduces the grey matter that is responsible for memory.
How Do You Manage Baby Brain?
The good news about baby brain is that it is temporary. That said, you will need to know how to cope with it. Here's what you can do:
- Use a daily calendar: A calendar app on your phone or a mini planner will help you keep track of time.
- Get enough sleep: Try to get at least seven hours of shut-eye daily to power your brain. If you're struggling to sleep, read our post on better sleep for pregnant women.
- Exercise: Workout (appropriate for pregnant women) will help you sleep better, improve your memory and keep you alert. Plus, try some mindfulness or relaxation exercises like yoga to keep down stress and anxiety.
- Get help: Share your workload when it's too much to handle. Let your spouse, friends and family help with the chores, kids, shopping, etc. The less workload, the less stress and the better your brain function.
- Take notes and snapshots: If you are techy, you can opt for a note-taking app on your phone or IPad to help you store important information or have a notebook in your carrier. You can also take shots of the stuff you want to keep track of, such as where you parked your car, receipts, flyers, business cards, etc.
- Set alarms and reminders: So you don't miss out on important meetings such as your prenatal appointments.
- Don't multitask: Cut down on your daily tasks. Only the most pressing tasks should be your priority. The lesser you have to do, the less stressed you are and the better for your brain.
- Use mnemonic devices: At this rate, mnemonic devices like acronyms and rhymes might be a lifesaver. These devices are helpful if you want to improve your recall.
- Be organized: Get storage for small objects like your keys and wallet, and place it at a specific place in your home. That way, it is easier to remember where you put these objects. You can also splurge to get trackers for your wallet and keys.
- Eat healthy: Switch to a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and choline since these support brain function (yours and your baby's). Add pregnancy-safe DHA-rich foods like salmon and other fish to your meals. Also, eat foods rich in choline (but are pregnancy-safe!) such as liver, salmon, legumes and cod. Choline is a mineral that helps the brain to form a chemical called acetylcholine which improves your memory.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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