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The “Mommy Brain”

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

Postpartum care

So, you just had a baby. Congrats! That's one of the most significant life changes that anyone can experience. But being a new mom comes with its own set of challenges. One of them is something we call "Mommy Brain."

Mommy brain. We’ve all heard about it. But what exactly is it? And what can you do about it?

It's not a medical term, but it may as well be. Mommy Brain is the name for what happens when your brain suddenly starts experiencing minor confusion, memory loss and distractibility after recently becoming a mother. You lose your keys. You forget where you parked the car. You go to the supermarket and forget what you were there to buy in the first place.

Postpartum Support

According to Dr. Arthur Robb, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, Mommy Brain is real, and it has three main symptoms: memory loss, distractibility, and confusion. Dr. Robb says that pregnancy triggers hormonal changes—namely high estrogen levels and progesterone—resulting in Mommy Brain symptoms.

It's common to feel like you're more forgetful than usual while pregnant due to changes in the brain's connectivity linked with higher levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy. These hormonal changes have been found to affect short-term memory and the ability to focus on tasks; they also impact emotional regulation and self-reflection, making you feel overwhelmed. Postpartum support from your trusted network of family, loved ones and friends will be especially important during this time.

The phenomenon of the Mommy Brain is not new; studies have been conducted for decades on what causes it and what you can do about it. But the truth is, we're still not exactly sure. Mommy brain could result from sleep deprivation, stress, or a combination of factors.

Postpartum Care

Some women complain of being forgetful during pregnancy and right after giving birth; others noticed a dip in their attentiveness throughout the day. And while there are plenty of theories about why this happens, there's no one definitive answer found. Some believe that increased estrogen levels or progesterone could make you more forgetful, but many women experience the same symptoms during menopause without having children. The common factor seems to be the exhaustion and stress accompanying having a child, especially if you're on parental leave.

Arriving home from the hospital with your new baby is a moment many women have dreamt about over the years. We dreamed of the day when we would be responsible for a tiny little human, yet… all you can think about is sleeping. There are significant hormonal changes during this period, and postpartum care is a consideration that is often neglected without realizing its benefits and stress-reduction.

Postpartum Depression Treatment

You might even wonder if you're in a fog. Did you just put the dog food in the fridge instead of the freezer? Did you sign up for that PTA meeting or did someone else do it? You stare blankly at your new baby and ask yourself, "What is your name again?" This state of confusion is often called "Mommy Brain." But how long will it last before your mind starts working again?

Well, that depends on whom you ask. Some experts argue that it will last only as long as the typical postpartum period. Other experts say it can take up to two years!

On a positive note, some research has shown improved brain plasticity in the years following the Mommy Brain phase. If you or someone that you care for is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, do not hesitate to get in touch with Postpartum Parent Network. We provide perinatal psychotherapy and support for mothers with postpartum depression and other perinatal mental health concerns before, during and after your pregnancy. Book a Postpartum Depression consultation with our experts today, or call us at 1-833-607-1554.

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