Updated: Oct 12
It happened again: you were supposed to meet your friend for lunch, but somehow you forgot. Yesterday, you forgot to call your mum back, and last week your online food shopping was missing so many bits!
What’s happening to you? Well, believe it or not, the “culprit” of these sudden bouts of forgetfulness is the little baby that’s growing inside you!
Just like many other strange things that happen during pregnancy, the so-called “baby brain” can be another very weird symptom. Perhaps, you’d heard of pregnancy brain but didn’t believe it was a thing.
Well, then read this article. We will reveal why not only is this an actual, scientific-proven pregnancy symptom, but we’ll explain why it happens.
What is ”Baby Brain” Anyway?
First of all, let’s begin by defining what this “pregnancy brain” is all about. It’s a type of brain fog and forgetfulness that many pregnant women experience, at any point of their pregnancy.
Also known by some as “momnesia”, pregnancy brain can be frustrating and annoying, but it’s a very common and harmless part of gestation.
There are several factors that can contribute to developing pregnancy memory problems…
Blaming Your Hormones? Yes, but There’s More to it
When talking about pregnancy-related signs and symptoms, it comes almost naturally to relate everything to the huge, rapid hormonal changes that your body goes through.
And yes, while hormones play a big part in causing you to become more forgetful during pregnancy, that’s not the full story.
When you’re expecting a baby, your sleep is often one of the main things that suffer. Multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night, combined with achy limbs and back can turn a good night’s sleep into a bit of a mirage.
You may know already how sleeping well and enough is crucial to maintaining strong cognitive functions. And guess what? Memory is one of them.
So, it goes without saying that if you don’t get enough good sleep, your memory will be affected, and you will start to forget things. The target could be anything: from work-related deadlines to a hairdresser’s appointment.
Another factor that causes forgetfulness during pregnancy is the extreme and constant fatigue that you are very likely to be feeling during the day. When you are so physically exhausted, your brain struggles to function as it normally would.
The result? Your memory becomes a bit patchy, and you start to forget stuff!
Incredible Brain Changes
You may wonder: why is this memory loss called “baby brain”? Why not “baby memory”, or something like that? Well, several scientific studies found that the brain of a pregnant woman actually experiences some pretty important changes during the nine months of gestation.
First of all, it functions in a different way. The areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling your emotional functions are working a lot harder compared to others, like for example your memory.
This is, allegedly, because nature has wired the female body to get more “in tune” with the developing baby, right from the early weeks and months of gestation.
But there’s more (again!). The brain-cell volume of a pregnant woman actually shrinks in size during the last trimester of pregnancy.
Don’t panic, though: you’ll soon find that, once your little bundle of joy has arrived, things will go back to normal (memory-wise, of course — your life will be completely revolutionized!).
Pregnancy brain is a temporary downside of this very special moment of your life, and a very normal and harmless one. No need to worry about it! You might want, though, to learn a few tricks to keep your memory stronger even during pregnancy.
Is There Anything You Can Do?
Of course, there are several things that you can do to minimise the frustrating feeling of constantly forgetting everything!
Here’s a handy list of tips (you might want to screenshot this, in case you forget it — just kidding!).
If you worry about forgetting important appointments, work meetings, or special occasions, you can put pen to paper and write them all down.
Get yourself a nice notebook or a desk calendar, and write a list of all the things that you need to do on a daily or weekly basis.
Then, before you go to bed, take a look at the following day’s to-do list, and “revise” it while you are drifting off.
In the morning, open your notebook or calendar and start tackling your list, ticking off all the things that you’ve done. Easy peasy, no?
Download an App
If you’re a bit of a tech nerd, then maybe you’ll want something more sophisticated than a pen and a diary. The good news is that there’s plenty of cool apps that can help you stay organized throughout the day.
Download one of these and fill it with all your important meetings, appointments, and events, and remember to set reminders and alerts some time before they happen.
Keep Your Pregnancy Brain Active
Helping to maintain your brain active is like giving your body a workout. It might not be always super easy (and you might not even feel like it), but the results will be worth it.
To do this, you have again two options. You could either stock up on magazines with brain exercises such as sudokus, word puzzles, and riddles, or you could download an app.
Even better, why not do both? An app will be a great option to use when you’re out and about, but a magazine might be a much better choice if you’re up for some brain training exercises when you’re lying on your sofa at the weekend.
Take It Easy
Remember: you’re growing an entire human from scratch! This is, in itself, a pretty incredible thing, right? So, try to take it easy, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure.
If this means declining some invites and cutting down on your to-do, to-go, or to-see list, then do it. It’s only going to be like this for a few more weeks or months, and then you’ll be able to slowly fill your calendar with exciting stuff again (mum and baby groups, anyone?).
Try Choline and Omega 3s
Have you ever heard of choline? It’s a mineral that’s responsible for boosting the production of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that helps with memory function.
Try to incorporate choline into your diet. Some choline-rich foods are: liver, egg yolks, beef, chicken breast, fish, and broccoli.
Another important nutrient that you’ll want to stock up during pregnancy is Omega 3 fatty acids. These are present in many pregnancy-safe types of fish, such as salmon, and help you and your developing baby to maintain good brain function and development.
Steer Clear of Ginkgo
Now, for something you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy, if you want to keep your memory working fairly well: ginkgo.
While you may have heard, or someone may have even recommended, that taking Ginkgo biloba supplements to aid with memory, you really shouldn’t be doing this.
Gingko biloba hasn’t been proven to be safe when taken during pregnancy, so stay away from it. In general, before taking any herbs, supplements, vitamins, or anything else, it’s always best to consult with your GP or midwife.
Be Kind to Yourself
Last but not least, try to be gentle and patient with yourself. As we said, pregnancy brain is a super-common, normal, and harmless part of pregnancy. It’s also temporary, which means that once you’ve given birth, your memory function will slowly go back to normal.
Yes, it may be frustrating and annoying, like many other pregnancy symptoms, but think about it. It’s just another sign from your body that you’re growing another human! And trust us, it’s going to be worth those missed deadlines and forgotten nail appointments.
Embrace Your Baby Brain!
When you’re pregnant, you experience many crazy symptoms: but you probably weren’t expecting one of these to be constant forgetfulness!
Baby brain, or pregnancy brain, is a real thing, and science has demonstrated it time and again through research and studies.
And while it can be pretty annoying and frustrating, it’s also another very natural and common part of pregnancy for a majority of expecting mums.
Try to take it easy and be patient with yourself: your memory will go back to normal once the baby arrives. In the meantime, you could try to keep your brain active by using brain training magazines or apps, and you can always write down detailed to-do lists in case you worry about forgetting important things.
Whatever you choose to do, try not to stress about it!
And if you’d like to take a look at the little “culprit” of these bouts of forgetfulness, you can always book a scan or chat to a midwife! Seeing the cute profile of your little one will surely make you forget about your… forgetfulness!