Mommy Brain Is Real: How to Manage Mommy Brain Symptoms
What is “mommy brain”? For one, it is a cliche that has been explained in different ways.
Some say that having children zaps all the energy out of you, making your brain fuzzy for many reasons.
Another one says that women are so distracted by motherly duties that their brains are frozen when it comes to things like remembering appointments or how much milk you have left in the fridge.
Yet, another explanation is that motherhood decreases overall cognitive functioning in mothers.
People have been talking about mommy brain for a long time, but science is only now catching up with what many mothers have known for a very long time: that hormones and childbirth do temporarily change a woman’s brain.
Mommy brain, the feeling of mental fogginess, is real. What it feels like can be very different for each woman, but in most cases, it’s a lessening in the ability to focus and pay attention.
Your newborn baby monopolizes all of your time and energy, leaving little room for anything else (unless you’re breastfeeding), which may lead to mom brain.
In the first few months following my first child’s delivery, I believed something was wrong with me.
I would call a friend to make a lunch date and then forget the name of the spot we were supposed to meet at that night. I’d ask my husband who would watch our son the following evening, only to forget his answer a few minutes later.
I can see how some individuals might think “mom brain” is just an excuse for not remembering as well as you used to.
But what if it’s more than that? What if mommy brain is a real condition?
What Is Mommy Brain?
Often referred to as “mommy brain,” the condition describes the forgetfulness and mental fog that some mothers experience after having a child. You can call it mommy brain, mom brain, baby brain, or momnesia, and I know many mothers can relate.
You may forget about a task within minutes of thinking about it. Sometimes you may have trouble recalling the name of your neighbor’s dog or feel like you’re constantly losing things.
This is also similar to “pregnancy brain,” which manifests itself as forgetfulness.
Women may fear showing early signs of cognitive decline, but these lapses are entirely normal and highly common. Even though they may seem alarming, you shouldn’t worry.
A group of British researchers scanned the brains of pregnant women in their third trimester and those between two and six months postpartum using magnetic resonance imaging.
Results show that the brain cell volume significantly decreased in size.
According to the researchers, shrinkage of the brain could be caused by hormonal changes in its metabolism.
And it makes sense because you gather a lot of new information postpartum, and worry about keeping your little one alive and healthy, which consumes your brain.
The human maternal brain is highly plastic, suggesting that both negative experience (e.g., stress) and positive experience (e.g., interventions) may significantly impact the pregnancy brain during maternity and the postpartum period.
What Causes Mom Brain?
In studies, the changes observed in mothers’ brains may or may not have anything to do with memory lapses.
It may depend on how much time and energy moms devote to caring for their newborns.
For instance, you might not know where you dropped your phone or keys and might also miss appointments. But you likely know how your baby cries when he wants food, and you can recall how many poos you cleaned up today, even if your phone has been lost.
In other words, you aren’t slipping; instead, you are focused on other things that will keep you and your child safe and healthy. Your brain focuses on growing those parts that are more critical to caring for a newborn instead of those that shrink.
In addition, the pressure a new mother feels from caring for a helpless newborn and the lack of sleep are significant contributors to brain drain.
However, scientists are discovering that there is more to it than that. For example, a woman’s brain experiences a neurobiological change both during pregnancy and afterward, impacting her verbal memory.
Scientists believe these changes should better prepare a new mom to understand and respond to her baby’s needs. Another way to put it is that these changes allow new mothers to adapt to their babies and focus on their needs.
Furthermore, their focus grows narrower and intense, which makes the periphery a little blurrier. In other words, if you have “mommy brain,” it is normal and not to be concerned.
It’s usual for you to feel this way as a new mom. Try to trust that your brain knows what it’s doing and that it’s preparing you for motherhood as you adjust to your role.
How Long Does Mommy Brain Last?
It’s unclear how long these brain changes last, but the fogginess and forgetfulness should subside a few months after delivery. It can improve particularly as routine develops and even more so as your child grows older.
Sometimes, you won’t need to use nearly as much mental energy worrying about things like choking or deviating from the bedtime routine.
One study found that mothers whose youngest child was at least a year old performed just as well on attention tests as non-mothers and had better executive control. As a result, they are better at dealing with all the information coming at them simultaneously and still staying focused on the task at hand.
According to Holdcroft’s study, brain shrinkage is just one of many changes women undergo during pregnancy. However, the gray matter increases to normal size sometime after delivery.
Ways to Manage Mommy Brain Symptoms
You cannot eliminate or prevent maternal brain changes on your own, but many of these changes are beneficial.
Therefore, if you struggle with fogginess and forgetfulness, you can manage it in various ways.
In addition, every woman has a different experience with “mommy brain.” While some women feel more alert almost immediately after giving birth, others may struggle for some time.
Irrespective of your position on the spectrum, dealing with “mommy brain” is no walk in the park. Let’s look at some tips for combating this brain-draining phenomenon.
Take It Easy on Yourself
It is normal for you to experience biological changes as your brain tries to adapt and evolve so that you can become the best mom you can be.
Although the side effects can sometimes be annoying, remember that they exist for a reason. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in areas that are unlikely to lead to catastrophe.
You can successfully manage your forgetfulness when you have a “mommy brain.” It requires some planning and some extra effort.
We all experience memory lapses occasionally, and critiquing yourself can increase your stress level and cloud your reasoning.
You should allow yourself time to finish your tasks or leave your house on time in the morning. If your kid has an appointment with his pediatrician the next day, get everything you need the night before.
Make sure your wallet/ purse and keys are in the same spot every day. People often hang their hats or keys on hooks upon entering the house, while others place them in decorative bowls.
Regardless of your method, stick to it! It feels miserable to spend time looking for your keys and wallet, especially when running late. Hurrying increases your chances of forgetting things.
Create a Daily To-Do List
You can choose to do it the traditional way by using a pen and paper/lightweight journal or go digital by banking on organizational or productivity apps, like Evernote, Google tasks.
Most Smartphones come with an in-built notepad or to-do app. Reminders and alarms can help you remember and take action.
Irrespective of what you use, always keep a running list of everything on your mind: shopping, pediatrician questions, a call about returning to work.
For most moms with “mommy brain,” forgetfulness is unavoidable. As a result, you should make a lot of lists to help you remember everything.
Exercise Your Brain
So far, no studies have examined whether brain activities, such as challenging publications, crossword puzzles, sudoku, or memory games, can help new mothers find ways to cope with their mom brain.
However, participating in an activity that challenges your memory or thinking may give you more confidence, and it is an enjoyable way to relieve stress and relax.
Try different activities to challenge your brain, whether they are things you enjoy doing in the past or something completely new.
Reach out to Other Moms
Join a new mom group either physically or on social media. Alternatively, you can chat with your mother, relatives, friends who have kids, or even your mother.
By hearing others’ stories, you will realize you are not alone, and they may have advice you didn’t know.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep deprivation greatly contributes to forgetfulness. For the brain to process all the newly acquired information throughout the day, it needs to rest.
If you don’t get enough sleep-which is difficult with a newborn-you’ll be affected by brain fog.
Share the responsibility of the late-night feeding with your partner, if you can.
In addition, if you are nursing, ask your partner to change the diaper before you pick up the baby. This will allow you to rest a little longer before feeding your baby.
Create Time for Yourself
Although it may be difficult, you must give yourself some time each day. Making time to relax and recharge is as essential as exercising, managing expectations, and making lists.
When you’re anxious and overwhelmed, you can’t function at your best. You need to take time to disconnect from the responsibilities of being a new mother, even if it’s just taking a hot, uninterrupted shower.
You can then reconnect with the baby, your house, your job, or whatever else is competing for your attention.
In the end, relaxing will benefit you more over time since you will be more energized, focused, and alert, and you will be able to accomplish more.
In addition, practice mindfulness. You can do so by focusing on your breathing, listening to a recording, or taking a class.
Eat Brain-Boosting Foods
Besides exercising, eat brain-boosting foods like dark chocolates, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, fatty fish, turmeric, and nuts. These foods can help to boost your memory and brain.
Focus on the Positives
Usually, we focus on the negative changes in our thoughts and feelings and overlook the positive.
Being a new mother makes you more likely to focus on how tired, overwhelmed, or distracted you feel.
You may consider writing down some of the ways motherhood has improved you. Refer to this list often. Motherhood offers many benefits.
Ask for Help
In my experience, new mothers make the mistake of thinking they have to do everything themselves. Try involving your spouse as much as possible.
In addition, you can also ask your family or friends for support, especially if you need a break.
You’ll be surprised at how your people willingly accept babysitting for a few hours while you take a nap to attend to something else. Taking the burden off you every once in a while can help to improve your memory and alertness.
Getting Professional Help for Symptoms of Mommy Brain
Many women report having difficulty paying attention, focusing, organizing, and forgetting after they become mothers.
These changes can be distressing for women, especially if they impact relationships or their ability to function at home, work, or school.
In case your symptoms cause you distress and impact your life, you may want to seek professional assistance. Your particular symptoms will determine the type of help you need.
If you are having trouble focusing, consider finding someone who specializes in this field.
You can learn tools and skills to improve your focus by working with a mental health professional that treats concentration problems, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Even though you don’t have ADHD, you may still benefit from the instruction of a professional.
When your symptoms seem emotional, such as feeling anxious, sad, or irritable, you may be suffering from perinatal mood disorders, such as postpartum anxiety and depression.
There is a possibility that the symptoms of mom brain are related to an underlying emotional issue for some women. It would be beneficial to meet with someone who treats postpartum mental health disorders.
Final Thoughts on Mommy Brain Fog
Are you struggling with mommy brain dramas? Just know that you are not alone.
It has happened to every mom at some point. Additionally, some evidence indicates that “mommy brain” is not only normal but could even be beneficial for both you and your baby.
While your pre-mother brain may never fully return, your new brain, spaciness, and all might just turn out to make you a better parent in the long run.
Several things can happen to your brain during and after pregnancy, and some of those changes are positive. “Mom brain” is one of them. The whole thing prepares you to be a more responsive and better mother.
Although you may find mental slipups embarrassing, do not worry about them too much.
You can help your memory by writing lists, using reminder apps, and taking other steps. Just remember that this stage won’t last forever.
In the end, it will probably be hilarious to remember the times you couldn’t find your keys or phone while holding them.
How was your experience? And how did you manage mommy brain symptoms? Let me know in the comment section below!
I also have similar articles that you may be interested in:
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