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Is "Pregnancy Brain" Real? How Pregnancy Hormones Really Affect Your Brain

You aren’t forgetful, your brain is just engaged in loftier pursuits.

I lost my mind during my first pregnancy and, quite frankly, I’m still looking for it.

I had heard talk of this “pregnancy brain”. Expectant co-workers jokingly employed it as a reason for why they forgot this or did that and I let their pregnant chatter float in one ear and out the other.

Until I got pregnant and often couldn’t remember my own name.

I’d stand up from my desk and stride purposefully across the room only to realize I forgot where I was going. Did I need to use the restroom? Probably, but was that my original intent? Was I thirsty? Was I headed to the fax machine? I’ll be damned if I could remember. And this would happen several times throughout the day. One time I lost my keys and found them in the work fridge next to someone’s stanky fish. Who puts fish in a work fridge? People that should be killed, that’s who.

Point is, I realized there was some merit to this “pregnancy brain” I’d heard women talking about. Now a scientific study is backing up your forgetfulness and blaming it on the fact that your brain is busy doing far superior things to faxing and remembering where you put your keys.

As Rick Nauert over at PsychCentral.com reports, the new research “looks at how the hormonal tsunami associated with pregnancy affects a woman’s brain.”

We know pregnancy changes bodies, moods, health and even behavior. But how does it change your brain?

Glynn and Curt A. Sandman, Ph.D., of the University of California – Irvine, have published a paper in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science that discusses current theories and findings on how pregnancy can change a woman’s brain.

At no other time in a woman’s life does she experience such massive hormonal fluctuations as during pregnancy. Research suggests that the reproductive hormones may ready a woman’s brain for the demands of motherhood — helping her becomes less rattled by stress and more attuned to her baby’s needs. Although the hypothesis remains untested, Glynn surmises this might be why moms wake up when the baby stirs while dads snore on. Another common characteristic associated with pregnancy and confirmed by research is “Mommy Brain,” or impaired memory before and after birth. “There may be a cost” of these reproduction-related cognitive and emotional changes, said Glynn, “but the benefit is a more sensitive, effective mother.”

So the next time you lose your car keys, look at this way: you aren’t forgetful or stupid. Your brain is engaged in loftier pursuits, like readying itself for motherhood.

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