It has long been rumored that pregnant women experience a phenomenon commonly referred to as “pregnancy brain”. Symptoms include mental fogginess, forgetfulness, and short attention spans. The problem is so common it affects four out of five expecting women. Up until now, it has largely been considered a non-medical issue, but now it has been confirmed as an actual side effect of pregnancy thanks to a new Austrailian study.
20 different pregnancy brain studies were analyzed and the data combined. There were 720 pregnant ladies and 521 not-pregnant women were included in the study so the results could accurately be compared. Both groups of women were administered the same tests including memory and attention-related tasks. It was revealed that not only did pregnant women perform worse than those who were not expecting. Women were tested several times throughout their pregnancies and most consistently had the same results. The information discovered does not mean that pregnant women are any less intelligent as they still scored in a normal range on the tasks. Overall, women experiencing “pregnancy brain” simply are not as mentally sharp as when they are not expecting.
It has been shown in medical studies that there is a possible reduction the level of gray brain matter for pregnant women in comparison with other women. The parts of the brain affected include the hippocampus which serves a major role in memory. Additionally, the influx of hormones also can bring about cognitive changes in pregnant women. There is some speculation as to whether the “pregnancy brain” symptoms prepare expectant mothers for the new role of motherhood. The brain may be preparing to decode infant behavior, work on minimal sleep, and deal with the many other changes that come with motherhood. After two years postpartum, cognitive activity was found to be restored to normal levels suggesting that “pregnancy brain” is indeed a temporary affliction.
Every person is different. Each expectant mother will experience different symptoms of pregnancy at different degrees of severity. Thanks to an Austrailian study published in the Medical Journal of Australia women now know for sure that “pregnancy brain” is a real thing and completely normal. Most mothers experience this cognitive decline in their first trimester all the way until the baby’s birth and for some time afterward. The good news is that it naturally fades and the regular cognitive function returns.