Pregnancy Baby Brain - Is it Real?

Pregnancy Baby Brain - Is it Real? Bespoke Baby

Nicolette Harris |

Your Simple Guide To Baby Brain

Let’s face it; the moment you peed on that stick changed your life forever. And not only because you are now preparing to welcome a beautiful baby boy or girl into the world. Compared to non pregnant women, pregnancy changes your whole outlook on life and the thought of your toned abs or not so toned abs becoming a mum tum no longer worries you. However, there is one potential change that will probably make you feel like your going mad: It's commonly referred to as baby brain.

Once the initial excitement of pregnancy settled down, you'll soon here stories of putting plates in the freezer, milk in the cupboard or leaving the house without putting your shoes from your Mummy friends, family and work colleagues. And they’ll probably take great joy in reminding you of there horror stories, like forgetting to pack newborn baby clothes to take to the hospital or Dad's forgetting to get the capsule fitted to come and pick up Mum and Bub for the first time. Once your pregnancy is announced, people will start labelling your ditsy actions as "baby brain".

Some questions you might start to ask yourself are; Is baby brain in pregnancy a real thing? When does baby brain start to develop? And, is baby brain permanent? Here’s the good, the bad and the down-right funny facts about baby brain.

Baby Brain: The Evidence

Throughout pregnancy, you will hear an plethora of myths and old wives tales and inaccurate information. Holding a needle and threat over your stomach won’t reveal the gender of your baby. Nor will eating a lot of salmon make you a baby boy. And, sadly, eating for two isn’t a necessary either (not to say it's not a good excuse or that you don't feel extra hungry during pregnancy) However, the baby brain phenomenon does genuinely exist!

As a group of Mums, we personally or believe studies say it doesn't exist, that it’s all in our mind...well, yeah, duh. Our favourite baby brain read is by the ABC News. It reveals studies have proved that baby brain is a real issue that impacts cognitive brain performance during pregnancy. 

The good news is that the research indicates baby brain often isn't reported to be experienced in the first and second trimester. However it is widely reported or gets a lot worse towards the end of your pregnancy. This might be because heavily pregnant women need to wee a lot, due to pressure on the bladder and limited space in there with a growing baby. Getting up multiple times throughout the night leads to sleep deprivation, we think this is another way your body prepares you for motherhood.

On the downside, though, additional research has shown that the impacts of baby brain can lasts for two years due to shrinking grey matter. Meanwhile, several physical developments, such as fatigue and sleepless nights may put you at greater risk of mental tiredness, along with the repercussions that follow it. 

So, while the science says you’re all good until the third trimester, the reality is that you might start to show some of the symptoms long before that!

Does Dad Brain Exist Too

Not that you’d wish anything bad to happen to your baby daddy, but the knowledge that they will experience at least some of the issues that you face during pregnancy is sure to raise a smile. Guess what? Dads get off lightly once more.

Studies show that the hormonal changes in the brain are experienced exclusively by expectant mothers and not fathers. It’s hardly the revelation that Bruce Willis was dead at the end of Sixth Sense, but it’s still something worth knowing. If nothing else, it’s more arsenal for seeking sympathy from your partner. Those huge hormonal changes that you have to go through but they don't.... uhh

What To Expect From Baby Brain In Pregnancy & Beyond

Baby brain in pregnancy is very common (up to four in five women report experiencing at least some symptoms of it) and completely normal, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling a little scary. Thankfully, you can remove a lot of the fear simply by preparing yourself for the adventure ahead and the expected changes that you are likely to encounter. 

The phenomenon is caused primarily by hormonal changes… isn’t that always that case with the issues we face as women. 

While overtiredness and the physical exertion of morning sickness and growing a person inside you will naturally take a toll too, hormones are the central focus and things to blame at all times. Throughout the pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, and the first two years of motherhood, you may experience a combination of the following symptoms;

  • Forgetting daily tasks, important dates, and other things that you usually wouldn’t.
  • Struggling to find certain words or recall memories with clarity.
  • Leaving items at home or, worse still, in public places like restaurants.
  • Making silly mistakes like putting items in the wrong places.
  • Generally feeling a slight sense of confusion in daily life.

On the flip side, the forgetfulness is met with heightened emotional responses (yep, those silly hormones again, eh…) as your body prepares to take care of your offspring.

Peculiarly, first-time mothers are at a greater risk of baby brain than mums who are in subsequent pregnancies. While that doesn’t mean you won’t experience some of the symptoms when having a second, third or eighth child, it is very likely that any issues will be noticeably milder. Or maybe, you have just changed throughout the years pregnancy, motherhood and wild hormonal and emotional changes that comes with all of the above

What Can Be Done To Reduce Baby Brain?

The fact of the matter is that you cannot simply stop baby brain from developing. After all, your unpredictable hormones will do what they want, just as they have every 28 days or so since your first period. On a brighter note, here are some hints and tips to help you along your way and manage your own baby brain phenomenon.

It's not new news, we've heard it all before, but a healthy lifestyle can help with our cognitive function and help growing and developing a healthy baby. This means trying to getting more sleep (while you can), maintaining a healthy diet, and getting the right amount of exercise. Further steps may include; ALWAYS check with your GP or OB or other qualified medical professional for safe diet and exercise during pregnancy.

  • Check if a prenatal vitamin is right for you. They are often recommended to ensure your body has the right nutrients to help fetal brain development
  • Writing to-do lists at night for the following day.
  • Keeping notes or voice notes to ensure you don’t forget anything.
  • Try to complete daily tasks chronologically, one step at a time.
  • Set alarms, notifications or timers of key dates, or tasks at hand (like baking a cake or turning off a hose).
  • Tell your partner about anything you must not forget. Share the load, ask him to remind you to do XXX task on XXX date at XXX time - ha, good luck with that one!

Above all else, you must remember that the majority of women experience baby brain and postpartum baby brain for a couple of years are common, normal, and will not cause health risks to you or your baby. Right now, between emotions, morning sickness, swollen feet, knowing every public toilet in the city you live in and feeling fat, remember to half a laugh at the funny things your forget and to tell someone, so they can remind of the time you forgot something or did something ditsy.

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