One of my best friends is currently nearing the finish line in her pregnancy for her first little babe. She recently ran into a case of the dreaded “pregnancy brain” and double booked herself for a doctor’s appointment and a work meeting.
“I feel like lately things keep falling through the cracks…You should write a post about pregnancy brain and the best ways to deal with it,” she told me.
I agreed and decided to get right to work.
Then I thought to myself, “I am nearly 16 months postpartum and it still hasn’t gone away…it has only morphed itself into a new variety…”mom brain”. Who am I to tell people ways to deal with it when I haven’t got the foggiest clue myself?”
My brain used to be quick, sharp, and — dare I say it? — pretty smart. That blob of grey matter up there in my skull worked hard and served its purpose…I’m pretty sure these days it is probably closer to the consistency of FlufferNutter.
Once I got pregnant, I often found myself struggling to come up with common words, occasionally replacing them with something off the wall. If I try to go to the grocery store without a list, forget it, we’re having oreos and popcorn for dinner. I sometimes stopped myself mid sentence because somewhere along the way, I completely forgot the point I was going to make.
Once I had Reagan, sleep deprivation only contributed to the ailment, but when she started sleeping through the night at around two months old (please don’t hate me…I know we’re spoiled!!) I thought maybe my brain would go back to normal.
But, instead I am now a mom chasing a toddler around…(by the way, “toddler” is hard for me to admit…to me she’s still only a baby) I still lose my keys about ten times a week, I make to-do lists like it’s my job, I have on more than one occasion looked for my phone for five minutes before I realize it’s in my hand or back pocket, and I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I have realized three hours later that I left the milk out on the counter after we finished breakfast.
I can suggest ways to “deal” with mom brain such as writing everything in a planner, (I have one like this from Erin Condren and I’m sort of obsessed), making lists, using post its, send yourself voicemails or emails, keep a note pad and pen in your bag so you can jot things down when you think of them, or even use the Notes app on your phone.
But my biggest pieces of advice for mom brain are the following:
One: Give yourself some slack
If you have a bun in the oven and you are experiencing pregnancy brain, try not to be too hard on yourself. Think about what your body is doing! You are literally growing another human being with your body. Who cares if the only way you can think of to describe your socks is “foot gloves” or if you went to work today with two different earrings on. Studies have shown that during pregnancy, women actually show decreased volume of grey matter in several areas of their brain, and it can take six months up to several years for it to recover.
Two: Realize your brain is preparing you for something amazing
While you may not be able to remember everything you need on the first trip out to the car and have to go back inside three times, or you may walk into a room and forget your intentions, remind yourself that you are putting the majority of your time and energy into raising or growing another person. These changes happen in our brains for a reason, and in those same studies that showed loss of grey matter, the women who showed the greatest loss scored the highest when tested on the motherly bond with their child. A slightly smaller vocabulary or the need to write thirty lists a day might feel frustrating now, but when you see your child learn something new and you realize you were responsible for teaching it to them, you’ll realize your brain is just as valuable as it always was.