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The Joys of Baby Brain

 

Baby brain is real. It’s a truly frustrating hallmark of pregnancy and it doesn't necessarily end with pregnancy...

You try to remember a word in a conversation but you just go blank. 

Or, you might go shopping and when it comes to paying for the groceries, you realise you left your phone and purse at home. 

And then there's that time of searching for days for the TV remote and finally finding it in the fridge! 

SO what exactly is Baby Brain?

A study from 2021 found it can actually lasted much longer, up to six years after childbirth.[1] The study found postpartum women had reductions in grey matter (the darker tissue that makes up the outermost layer of the brain) in regions responsible for social cognition. However, Liisa Galea, a professor of neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, reports, "Just because there’s a reduction doesn’t mean it’s necessarily associated with bad performance on any kind of task”.[2]  Multiple studies suggest those with the largest drop in grey matter presented a particular maternal closeness with their baby, which may be due to the brain adapting to promote some neurological abilities, such as emotional bonding but possibly at the expense of other abilities. [3][4][5] Whilst disturbed sleep, lack of energy and stress may play a part, some suggest fluctuations in hormones are responsible for baby brain, especially oestrogen and oxytocin.[3][6]

 

What you can do about it? 

  • Breathe

Taking long deep breathes through the nose, all the way down to the pelvis, will calm the nervous system and help to reduce stress hormones. 

  • Eat Choline rich foods

Our bodies need choline to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a part in memory function. The demand for choline increases quite significantly during pregnancy, up to 10 times, as the placenta stores it for infant neurotransmitter production.  But when dietary intake of choline is inadequate, the mother may experience a decrease in memory and cognition, as resources are shunted towards the fetus for growth and development. Eggs, meat, organ meats, seafood, kidney beans and soybeans are rich in choline. 

  • Nap

Getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night becomes more difficult when pregnant or when having young children as there are many physical and emotional obstacles to deal with. Make up for the lack of night time sleep by catching a nap during the day to help you cope with fatigue. 

  • Write it down

Keep a list nearby and write things down to help jog your memory. 

  • Drink plenty of water

Remember to drink 2-3L of water daily. If you’re dehydrated you’re more likely to have a lack of concentration. 

  • Do gentle exercise

Exercise will help stimulate your circulation and promote blood flow and oxygen to your brain. But not only will exercise help you, it can help the brain of your unborn child too. 

  • Have a sense of humor, IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY! 

Written by: Vanessa Jones (Our amazing Naturopath!)

If you would like further support navigating your baby brain, postnatal depletion or just general motherhood brain fog you can book a 1:1 session with Vanessa, click HERE

 

 

References

[1] Martínez-García, Magdalena., et al. Do Pregnancy-Induced Brain Changes Reverse? The Brain of a Mother Six Years after Parturition. Brain Sciences. 2021 Jan 28;11(2):168.

[2] Mauracher, J. 2021. ‘Baby brain’ is real and could have long-term impacts. Should parents be worried? Global News. Posted July 22, 2021 Accessed 13/03/22, <https://globalnews.ca/news/8044277/baby-brain-is-real-and-could-have-long-term-impacts-should-parents-be-worried>

[3] Barha, Cindy K., and Liisa AM Galea. The maternal 'baby brain' revisited. Nature neuroscience 20.2 (2017): 134.
[4] Kinsley, Craig H., et al. Motherhood and the hormones of pregnancy modify concentrations of hippocampal neuronal dendritic spines. Hormones and behavior 49.2 (2006): 131-142.

[5] Gatewood, Jessica D., et al. Motherhood mitigates aging-related decrements in learning and memory and positively affects brain aging in the rat. Brain research bulletin 66.2 (2005): 91-98.
[6] Tomizawa, Kazuhito, et al. Oxytocin improves long-lasting spatial memory during motherhood through MAP kinase cascade. Nature neuroscience 6.4 (2003): 384.

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