Forgetfulness during pregnancy: Myth or reality?

Forgetfulness during pregnancy: Myth or reality?
  • PublishedMay 18, 2022

As a woman’s body undergoes physical changes during pregnancy, there are certain psychological changes that one may also begin to notice such as memory loss, which can be a daunting experience. Find out more about memory loss during pregnancy also known as pregnancy brain and how you can beat it.

If you are pregnant, you may have, on a few occasions, entered a room and forgot why you went there in the first place or found it hard to focus at times. Naturally, it is likely to drive you nuts wondering why your brain feels a little foggier than you are used to. However, this is quite common during pregnancy and it certainly affects how mentally sharp you feel in what has come to be known as ‘mumnesia’, ‘baby brain’ or ‘pregnancy brain’.

Pregnancy brain is a term used to refer to the forgetfulness or momentary loss of focus, which many women go through during pregnancy. Although this can get frustrating, pregnancy brain, thankfully, does not affect well-practiced memory tasks. Simply put, it tends to affect your short-term memory, for instance, forgetting where you left your keys.

Like with many other pregnancy-related conditions, pregnancy brain is also thought to be as a result of the flood of hormones, which trigger both psychological and physiological changes. Several studies show that pregnancy does cause memory loss in 50 to 80 per cent of mums-to-be and progresses for the duration of the pregnancy. In some cases, this condition can last up to two years after delivery.

While the exact memory loss-triggering hormone is not known, some research show that pregnant women, especially as they near delivery, have a significantly worse memory compared to those who are not pregnant. According to other studies, the surge of hormones during pregnancy is believed to affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, affecting how they relay messages and therefore making memory more difficult to form.

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However, psychologists opine that pregnancy brain is caused by this major lifestyle change, that is, the woman’s body and mind preparing for the baby. This school of thought holds that it boils down to the worry or excitement that mothers have as they wait for the baby. As such, this stress and anxiety interferes with concentration, making it harder to remember things.

Additionally, the fatigue caused by difficulty in sleeping while pregnant may also induce such memory loss as studies have established that sleep deficiency can disrupt thought processes.

How you can improve your memory

Fortunately, if you have been affected by pregnancy brain, you can make a few changes and add a few strategies to help you remember things:

Write things down: Keep a planner or diary for all your planned activities or download an app which can notify you of your activities or can help you with simple reminders during the day. This will ultimately make things a lot easier.Get plenty of rest: Undoubtedly, you need enough sleep to have energy to grow and carry a baby. However, sleep also helps to refresh your memory and keep you mentally alert every day.Exercise: Working out, with the approval of a doctor, not only keeps you healthy during pregnancy, but it can also sharpen your memory and help you sleep better at night, increasing your alertness during the day.Ask for help:     Having too many things on your plate could worsen your memory loss. Ask for help from your family or friends when it comes to chores or other errands, as this will considerably put you in a better space mentally.Simplify your routine: Make things easier to remember by simplifying aspects of your daily life such as putting things like keys in one place every day or taking photos of things you need to remember. Also keep a written to-do-list to remind you what needs to be done.

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This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Parents.

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