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The recent study, of the United Kingdom, shows that “pregnancy brain” is more than urban legend -- and that comes as a big relief to expectant women who have tried to boil spaghetti without the water or left an overnight bag sitting in the driveway after leaving for a weekend trip. You know who you are. Now science is proving what women have always known: Pregnancy messes with your head.
Researchers at the Bradford Institute of Health Research asked 23 pregnant women and 24 women who were not pregnant to take computer tests that evaluated their attention and spatial recognition memory (the thing you use to remember where you parked your car). Okay, that’s not a ton of participants—we’re still waiting for the Harvard Medical study on this!—but the findings are still interesting. They discovered the pregnant women did significantly worse on those tasks than non-pregnant women.
"Forgetfulness and slips of attention are phenomena commonly reported by pregnant women, but scientists have yet to identify a specific mechanism by which this memory impairment might occur. Indeed, some question whether the reported memory loss exists at all," researcher Diane Farrar said in a news release from the Society for Endocrinology.
Because anxiety and depression were also more common in pregnant women, researchers believe that hormonal changes in pregnancy may play a part in any neurological changes that affect memory.
You know what else causes anxiety? Feeling like you're losing your mind. Whatever causes “momnesia,” there's no reason to let it rule your life. Experts say the effects last until about three months postpartum, so until then here are some tips for making the most of the memory that you've got left:
-- Write it down. Carry a small notebook or digital voice recorder with you for quick reminders and keep a detailed calendar. Always make a list, even if you never used to need one. Remember, the average people can keep a mental list of seven things. You, on the other hand, can't remember your husband's middle name.
-- Get more sleep. Go ahead and hate me for saying it. It's a tall order when you've got a seven pound baby using your bladder for a trampoline or you have a new baby to take care of, I know. But even if you can't get a solid eight hours, the act of making sleep a top priority will easy both memory and mood issues.
-- Simplify. Chances are you'll work right up until the baby is born, and you might already have children at home. You need your energy for them, not for redoing the second bathroom or baking cupcakes for the latest bake sale.
Have you ever suffered from pregnancy brain (or later on, mommy brain)? Share your funniest stories with us!