Baby brain baloney

One Brainy Mama

I remember being incensed when I was in a business meeting whilst 8 months pregnant, and a significantly older male colleague mocked my inability to recall a company name, asking if I had baby brain?  I pointed out he couldn’t remember either (and desperately wanted to ask if that was due to dementia, but I digress).  I was so annoyed at his assumption I was suddenly mentally incapable.  I suspected that my brain was very much the same as it ever was.  Turns out I was wrong.

Mother’s brains do change during pregnancy.  Scientific studies back up the common experience that pregnant women experience mental changes during and after their pregnancy.  But apparently it’s not so simple as becoming  forgetful and irrational.  What actually occurs is hormones change they way the brain functions in order to prepare it for the challenges of raising a child. 

Kinsley described it in the The Maternal Brain, as follows:

Although a newly born mammal is a demanding little creature, unappealing on many levels it is smelly, helpless and sleeps only intermittently the mother’s devotion to it is the most motivated of all animal displays, exceeding even sexual behavior and feeding.”

Last year, two Australian researchers reported that pregnant women consistently performed worse on tests for memory and verbal skills. (This is contradicted by a more recent study by Professor Christensen of the ANU, which found no difference in the logic and memory skills of women tested before and during pregnancy – maybe we forget things all the time, but call it baby brain when pregnant?)

What Kinsley found, however, is that temporary declines occur during the remodelling the brain, which is eventually beneficial. His studies, carried out on animals including rats and primates, show mothers become much braver, are up to five times faster at finding food and have better spatial awareness than those without offspring. 

So if you’re a mother, you should know that you’re actually smarter, better at shopping and better at reverse parking than you otherwise would have been.


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