*Collaborative guest post
Yes, the ‘baby brain’ phenomenon truly does exist! A team of scientists from Australia has finally managed to collect empirical data to prove that cognitive function in pregnant women and new mothers does decline. In their study, published at the beginning of the year in the Medical Journal of Australia, the researchers provided proof of cognitive, memory, and executive functioning changes that occur in pregnant women’s brains. This news has definitely put millions of mothers and mothers-to-be at ease as their plight will now hopefully have not only official acknowledgement but also treatments.
What Is ‘Baby Brain’ and What It Means for a Mother?
‘Baby brain’ is a phenomenon experienced by many pregnant women and is often referred to as ‘pregnancy brain’. The condition is difficult to define as each woman experiences it differently. However, it can generally be described as a ‘decline in cognitive and memory function as well as alertness’. If you’ve ever felt ‘scatterbrained’ after a tough few days, this is what it is, but often on a larger scale and much more lasting.
Women have been reporting the symptoms of ‘baby brain’ for a very long time, but even when the studies in the subject started, there was no definitive proof. Luckily, now we don’t have to ask if baby brain is real anymore.
The bad news?
Little is known about this condition and no treatment currently exists.
Now for the bright side. At least there’s now factual evidence to the condition’s existence. This gives a lot of hope to many women who have to live with it daily.
The symptoms of ‘baby brain’ are varied. Usually they revolve around impaired memory and cognitive function. Simply put, this condition makes you forgetful, less attentive, and it makes it hard to concentrate.
This kind of absentmindedness often goes overlooked because it’s attributed to stress caused by pregnancy or caring for a newborn. This is definitely one of the reasons why this problem has been ignored for so long.
However, it’s also an extremely important matter. While being a bit absent-minded at times is OK, everything changes if the situation gets severe. ‘Baby brain’ increases the risk of accidents greatly. After all, what’s to prevent a pregnant woman from accidentally forgetting to turn off the stove?
No answer exists for that now. And there is also no answer to the exact cause of the condition. It’s currently believed that it occurs due to a combination of stress and hormonal changes. Hopefully, the new study from Australia will spur researchers into the right direction.
Other Important Studies of the ‘Baby Brain’ Phenomenon
There were several attempts to study the changes in mothers and pregnant women’s brains before researchers have finally proved the ‘baby brain’ phenomenon. One of these studies is particularly intriguing as it indicated that pregnant women experience a reduction of grey matter in several areas of the brain. Specifically, the areas affected are tied to social functions.
Scientists believe that this helps mothers adapt to become better carers and bond with the newborn. According to this study, the changes in brain matter revert back within two years after birth.
Of course, there were many studies that did not reveal any actual changes, which is why ‘baby brain’ was deemed to be a myth for a long time. However, as noted a psychologist from the University of Albany Joanna Workman, these studies might be incorrect because of their lab setting. She assumes that lab-based tests do not reflect these specific changes. However, the fact that pregnant women were more likely to forget to get back to the lab and hand in their questionnaires is much more revealing.
For you mothers out there questioning your sanity, let it be known. You aren’t crazy. Your words have now been proven true and we can only hope that solutions to help you deal with this condition will be found to ease the burden.