Amnesia From Pregnancy: What Is It?

“What did I come to the kitchen for?”, “I have a memory lapse”, “Where are my keys” ?. Forgetting something is normal during pregnancy and after childbirth, but is there really pregnancy amnesia?
Pregnancy amnesia: what is it?

Many women complain about their memory, or rather, their memory loss when they get pregnant. Is pregnancy amnesia a myth or is it reality?

Several studies, including research published in Nature Neuroscience , point to several changes taking place in the brains of future mothers.

The so-called restructuring begins during pregnancy and is still evident two years after the birth. But does pregnancy amnesia really exist? Let’s find out in this article.

Is pregnancy amnesia real?

A good percentage of pregnant women say they feel more careless than usual. Losing your cell phone or keys, forgetting to buy something at the supermarket, a pot on the stove or a work appointment are some of the situations these women report as common during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

So is this memory loss to be associated with pregnancy? The truth is that the term pregnancy amnesia was not coined by science, but by popular belief.

Specialists admit that some women experience memory loss that could be associated with hormonal changes or, more simply, pregnancy-related worry, which excludes from their mind what is not important. Furthermore, after childbirth, fatigue could cause these small forgetfulness.

Reduction of the gray matter of expectant mothers

Woman thinking

According to a study by the University of Deakin (Australia), published in the Medical Journal of Australia , the volume of gray matter is reduced during pregnancy. The researchers looked at 20 studies comparing the cognitive functions of 709 pregnant women and those of 521 non-pregnant women.

The results showed that pregnant women had poorer cognitive function and memory. However, further studies will be needed before confirming the existence of pregnancy amnesia.

The forgetfulness of the new mother

Mother and son
The mother’s brain changes to better respond to the baby’s needs.

While more studies are needed to confirm or disprove the existence of this condition, a 2010 study suggests that the hormonal changes the mother-to-be is subjected to could be responsible for the reduction in memory.

Such hormonal changes would help the mother adjust to the need to reconcile with her child’s life and health. The brain is thought to make a selection of the weakest connections and eliminate them in order to focus on what really matters: the emotional connection and the response to the needs of the newborn.

What is pregnancy amnesia?

Pregnant woman pregnancy amnesia
Pregnancy amnesia has not been confirmed by comprehensive data, but many women claim to suffer from it.

As we have seen, there are no exhaustive data able to give us certainty that pregnant women and new mothers suffer from memory loss. However, many women claim this is the case.

Data from another study supports the hypothesis that gestation would interfere with women’s ability to perform certain tasks, especially those associated with spatial memory.

The aforementioned forgetfulness could be associated with high hormone levels in the expectant mother’s body ; among these, prolactin and progesterone stand out. Let’s see below some typical situations that arise in those living with pregnancy amnesia and that seem to be associated with the difficulties associated with the previously mentioned spatial memory:

  • Turn on the washing machine and forget to hang out the laundry.
  • Open the door and forget the keys outside.
  • Going to the supermarket and not remembering what you wanted to buy.
  • Forget lunch in the oven or on the fire, until it burns.
  • Wanting to do something and forget about it before completing the job.

How is pregnancy amnesia combated?

If these oversights happen to you since you are pregnant, be calm! Most of the time they are temporary. To combat this, we recommend the following: 

  • Take note of your schedule and don’t go out shopping without making a list of things to buy.
  • Ask for help: don’t try to do everything alone.
  • Try to rest: we know it’s not easy when you have a baby in the house, but remember that your health is more important than having a bright home! Sleep when the baby does.
  • Take some time for yourself : ask your partner to take care of the baby and relax. Choose activities for yourself.
  • Exercise.
  • Play a puzzle or a memory game.
  • Follow a balanced diet: the brain needs all the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Did you recognize yourself in any of the examples we have described to you? You are probably experiencing pregnancy amnesia. Although science has not yet endorsed the term and the data collected is not exhaustive, most women talk about it. And you, do you think so? Really exists?

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