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Here’s What Baby Brain Is And How You Can Help A Woman Who Has It

It’s a well-worn trope that when a lady gets pregnant she has a tendency to lose her … Uh, what’s that thing that lets you know what happened in the past? Like, that thing, in the brain? Wait, what was this even about again? Oh, right. Baby brain.

Baby Brain Is Real. But Not.
Strongly anecdotal evidence exists for baby brain (or “momnesia” if you’re feeling whimsical about it). Most moms-to-be will report some degree of memory loss during their pregnancy, though they never forget who did this to them, particularly during labor. But some remain skeptical about the self-reported condition. And science remains split.

Based on current research, it appears that a woman’s brain during pregnancy remains unaltered. That said, studies do show impaired memory function during pregnancy despite the fact that physical brain changes don’t occur. Which is why your partner might be talking about getting so many tattoos as a Memento of this happy time. So what’s actually going on?

flickr / Pedro Ribeiro Simões

flickr / Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Where Does Baby Brain Come From?
If your partner can’t remember to put on pants (first of all, congratulations!) it’s probably a wicked combination of prenatal stress, lack of sleep and a new focus on her body and the baby that will soon be in the world.

You can add to that mix the wash of hormones floating around her brain as well. Hormones like oxytocin, which are crucial to important stuff like lactation do affect the way the brain’s wiring works. While that wiring may not be scrambled, it is firing in new and interesting ways. So basically her brain is like most of the creepiest scenes in Stranger Things.

Turns out, when you have a rough time sleeping, have to deal with a flood of hormones washing through your brain and then spend all of your time thinking about how your baby is growing, things like remembering Arbor Day become super hard. Even though for years you’ve traditionally celebrated your lumberjack great grandfather who died in a freak squirrel accident on that day. Damn you, squirrel!

flickr / Hey Paul Studios

flickr / Hey Paul Studios

3 Ways To Fight Baby Brain
While you could just be amused by watching her constantly walk into rooms, look around confused and then walk out again, you could also be a stand-up guy and help out. Here are some ways to help her fight baby brain:

  • Sleep: If there’s anything you can do to help her sleep, do that thing. Even it means moving your bulldozer snore into another room. Seriously. It sounds like someone’s building condos in your schnoz.
  • Responsibilities: Take some extra stuff on for the coming months. If there are some logistical things that commonly fall on her shoulders (like paying bills or scheduling appointments) take ‘em on. And don’t mess it up.
  • An Extra Noodle: Have a pad of paper and pen around. Feel free to write down notes from your conversations about prenatal doctor’s visits or things to do before the baby arrives. These jottings will help later when she’s trying to recall what she wanted to talk about, or do. And you can always sneak in an Arbor Day reminder if necessary. You know, for great grandpa Stumpy.