What does having a baby do to your brain?

It’s not until you become a mum do you know (or care) what the term Baby Brain means. Then suddenly a few months after giving birth… BAM your new brain arrives. And surprise, it’s nowhere near as switched-on or useful as your old one.

Not only do you get a new identity, new name, new body (yep, sigh)… it seems your brain is now mainly fluff. You lose your mobile and keys daily, find a can of cat food in the dish washer, walk into a room with no clue what you’re looking for and the worse one…you seem to have lost words. Sometimes you’re just slower at finding a particular word, other times you can’t find it at all. Not clever, technical words, just every day stuff  like petrol station, calendar, lantern. You’re left faffing around, flabbergasted mid conversation.

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This week my baby brain (my son is now six-months-old) has left me looking like an idiot three times.

  • Firstly, I dropped my two-year-old daughter at nursery but totally forgot to tell them I wouldn’t be collecting her as I always do. Instead I gallivanted off to London for the day/ night and didn’t give it a second thought! My mum (who has never been to the nursery before) had agreed to collect her instead. Why my brain decided this wasn’t a big deal I don’t know. IT REALLY WAS A BIG DEAL! A huge one. Nursery’s are extremely strict about situations like this. I felt like a moron when, hours later,  I listened to my voicemail at 8pm and realised what stress I’d caused everyone.
  • On the same day I forgot to tell my husband not to drive to my parent’s home and collect our baby boy at 5pm. I’d arranged for my mum to take him on the nursery pick-up and then drop both children back to my husband at home. However, for some crazy reason my brain forgot to tell my husband this! So after work he rushed to my parent’s and found no-one home, just a pitch-black house with no lights on.
  • The following morning I took both kids to a soft play class (Gymboree). I was carrying my daughter in my arms while trying to push/ steer the baby in the buggy. My brain thought it was a good idea to try and ram the wheels up a curb, instead of lifting them like normal people would. I gained a bit of speed and went for it (I was in a rush, it seemed like the quickest option). The pushchair flipped over and crashed to the floor, I fell to the ground taking my little girl with me. Utterly ridiculous. Luckily, none of us were hurt, my daughter thought it was hilarious, my ego thought it was mortifying.

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Anway, I arrived home later that day feeling a bit tearful about my brainless parenting fails. How long will Baby Brain take over my normal thought process?

So I did what all concerned parents do… I googled it. What Does Having A Child Do To Your Brain?

Baby brain: “A post-pregnancy-induced fog. Many women report that they become forgetful, oversensitive and less able to focus on logical tasks.”

Research says your brain can “freeze” and become “deficient” during early stages of motherhood? WHAT!? Some mums even say staying at home with children had officially lowered their IQ.

Here’s apparently why:

  • Broken sleep, continuously over a period of time, will make your brain function less.
  • Sleep deprivation stops your brain following a complex pattern meaning multi-tasking, planning and organising information is limited
  • Your brain is working too hard. New mums need to quickly learn a vast amount of new skills to care for a newborn. Suddenly your brain is working overtime and there’s too much pressure on it. Also it’s already weakened from lack of sleep.
  • Excess hormones mean your emotions are soaring, this stops your brain working efficiently. While hormones provide you with energy to deal with night feeds they shut down the area of your brain that helps you think clearly.
  • Getting up in the middle of the night for a period of a year or so, lead to an acceleration in brain ageing. Grrrrreat!

    Here’s the good news though… Baby Brain is short-term and once you get back into a pattern of normal sleep it will pass.

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So what can I do to help myself in the meantime? This is what the experts advise:

  • take fish oil supplements
  • Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your brain
  • Cut back on caffeine (oh no! I love my coffee hits!!)
  • Cook with coconut oil, it’s said to be a wonderful brain nourisher
  • Eat blueberries and broccoli to boost memory
  • Exercise more often – swimming and yoga are said to be the best

    I’ve decided in a vague attempt to bit less Baby Brained to drink less coffee/tea and drink at least 2 litres of water. Also I had blueberries on my branflakes this morning and plan to add broccoli to a smoothie later. It’s a start!


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