Can pregnancy affect your memory?

January 25, 2012 12:00 AM by

The large number of expectant moms who regularly forget things like where they parked their car or what they ate for breakfast has led to a host of terms (such as pregnancy brain and momnesia) categorizing the forgetfulness experienced during gestation. Have you had a hard time remembering lately? Here is the science behind this phenomenon and what you can do to stop it from affecting your day-to-day life.

The science behind pregnancy brain
In 2010, the Australian National University in Canberra published a study in The British Journal of Psychiatry that found no structural changes in the brain of expectant moms. However, in an interview with WebMD, lead researcher Helen Christensen acknowledged that pregnant women do experience high rates of forgetfulness.

While their brains are still capable of remembering, the emotional anxiety and sleeplessness that often occurs throughout pregnancy can affect memory. Furthermore, pregnant women have high levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are known to affect the nervous system.  

"These hormones [estrogen and progesterone] affect all kinds of neurons in the brain," Louann Brizendine, director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco told the source. "You only have so many shelves in your brain so the top three are filled with baby stuff."

Tips to boost your memory
You can use your forgetfulness as an indicator that you need to simplify your life before your baby arrives. Once a newborn joins your family, your schedule is going to become much more complicated and hectic. You can develop organization habits now that will help you later on.

Start writing things down. Keep a notebook nearby where you can list all of your responsibilities for the day and check them off after you complete them. Also, try to get as much sleep as you can, which is admittedly difficult for parents. Nonetheless, adequate rest is a large component of minimizing forgetfulness. 

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