WebMD explains that pregnancy brain is common especially around women who are not getting enough sleep and are stressed.
Helen Christensen, PhD, of The Australian National University, says, "If you read pregnancy manuals and listen to pregnant mothers -- yes, there is such a thing as pregnancy brain or momnesia. And there is also evidence from research showing deficits in memory."
But, she adds, "the evidence from our study shows that the capacity of the brain is unaltered in pregnancy."
It’s 100% normal to have memory lapses or be forgetful when you’re busy, stressed, or short on sleep, Christenson says.
Jane Martin, MD, director of the Neuropsychological Testing and Evaluation Center at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center, agrees. "When you are not getting enough sleep and are multitasking, nobody's memory is good," she says. "You are not cognitively sharp when you haven't slept well."
Surging hormone levels and new priorities may help explain why pregnancy brain happens.
"There is 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen marinating the brain during pregnancy," Louann Brizendine, MD, director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, says. "And these hormones affect all kinds of neurons in the brain. By the time the woman delivers, there are huge surges of oxytocin that cause the uterus to contract and the body to produce milk -- and they also affect the brain circuits."
"You only have so many shelves in your brain, so the top three are filled with baby stuff," Brizendine says.
“Your IQ doesn't change, but your priorities do.”
If you are suffering from pregnancy brain and forgetting details
here are some ways to help you cope:
- Make a To Do List: Every morning make a to do list over your morning tea. Write down anything that HAS to be accomplished that day. Then in another column or on the back of the paper write down anything you WANT to accomplish but isn’t a top priority. Finish the HAS before you get to the WANTS.
- Use Technology: With smartphones these days there are a ton of apps that can help you set reminders. Use apps to remember appointments, grocery lists, and to check your email while on the go. There are even apps that can help track your water drinking and exercise. We love Google Keep for reminders and you can even sync it up with your GMAIL account.
- Write it Down: If you are forgetting things at work or not remembering deadlines, write it down. Carry around a legal pad or small notebook and write down anything that you feel is important; have it on your desk, at your house and put one in your purse and car for when you are out and about. If you really don’t want to forget something invest in some neon post-its and scatter them around your house and cubicle.
- Delegate: If you need help ask for it; if you can’t take on that big project at work then don’t volunteer. If you are too exhausted to cook, ask your partner to do it or order take out. You can only do so much in one day.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Do you really need to dust behind the washer today? If the answer is no then put it off til you have some more time. Pregnancy is a fun time so have a sense of humor if things don’t go as well as expected.
- Relax: Stress is one of the top causes for pregnancy brain so by relaxing you might remember more. If you are really stressed we recommend looking into a prenatal yoga class that focuses on mediation and breathing.
- Sleep: Consider going to bed an hour earlier or taking a nap if you get too overwhelmed. An extra hour of sleep per day makes a huge difference in terms on energy and memory recollection.