Pregnancy Brain—What Is It and Tips to Manage It

Pregnancy brain. Mommy brain. Momnesia. You’ve heard about it, thought about it, probably imagined it might have even been a myth… and then you got pregnant. Now, you think it’s more real than you could have ever imagined. What exactly is pregnancy brain? Why does it occur, and are there any ways to overcome it? We have answers to your questions and more, as we dive into pregnancy brain and tips to combat it.

According to WebMD, “Pregnancy does not change a woman’s brain, even though some women don’t feel as sharp as usual when they’re pregnant.” While pregnancy doesn’t literally alter the makeup of your brain, it can sometimes feel like it does. Pregnancy brain often results in feelings of forgetfulness, fogginess and issues focusing. BabyCenter says between 50 and 80 percent of pregnant women report having issues with memory during their pregnancy. While medical professionals aren’t exactly sure what causes this yet, researchers have a few hypotheses.

The first hypothesis is pretty simple: lack of sleep. Pregnancy often causes a lot of stress, as both your body and your lifestyle go through significant changes. Additionally, many expecting mothers have issues sleeping due to different conditions caused by their pregnancy. All of this stress and lack of sleep can result in memory loss or brain fogginess for anyone; women just happen to be pregnant.

The second hypothesis has more to do with pregnancy itself. Naturally during pregnancy, your body produces an excess amount of hormones. According to What to Expect, these include everything from estrogen, to progesterone, to oxytocin and prolactin. Hormones release and react with each other, resulting in a plethora of symptoms, potentially including what we refer to as pregnancy brain. As your pregnancy progresses, hormones increase and new ones are introduced, causing many women to feel more forgetful in their third trimester.

Regardless of what causes pregnancy brain, the fact remains that many expecting mothers experience it and feel frustrated by it. So, what can you do to overcome momnesia? There are a few simple steps:

  • Write it down. This might seem like an obvious idea, but it can have enormous benefits. Whether you write down your to-do list, take notes of people’s names or simply write down lists of your thoughts, the less you have to “keep” in your brain, the better. You won’t have to stress about trying to remember anything; instead, it will all be written down somewhere you can reference back to.
  • Have a place for everything. If you find yourself misplacing everything—then forgetting where you put it—combat the mommy brain by making sure you have a place for everything, such as keys, wallet or cell phone. For example, have a hook right by the door to hang your keys on, then make sure you actually do it. When everything has its rightful place, you won’t have to remember where you left it.
  • Keep a calendar. Trying to remember your schedule for the day or week can be stressful even when you’re not pregnant. Instead, keep a calendar either for your family or for yourself, and write everything down as soon as you have a date for it. That way, you can check each day and won’t have to worry about trying to remember what’s going on.
  • Set reminders. When things pop up that don’t fit into your lists, notes or calendar, set reminders on your phone. Little reminders here and there are helpful ways to remember things like take your medicine or feed the dog.
  • Exercise. Finally, not only is exercising while pregnant healthy for both you and your baby, but it can also help improve mommy brain. Everyday Family says researchers have linked light strength conditioning and endurance exercise to an improvement of memory. Additionally, light exercise gives your body an endorphin boost, which helps to reduce stress that can lead to fogginess.

If you’re an expecting mom, chances are you know all about pregnancy brain. While questions still surround its cause, there are ways to overcome its effects in every trimester. Try out some of these helpful tips to stay as focused as possible during your pregnancy.

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