Women the world over are concerned with the physical changes that motherhood brings about, often comparing their pre and post-baby bodies. What’s lesser known, but equally important, is the effect motherhood has on women’s mental health. It often results in a phenomenon, now termed as ‘mommy brain’. If you find yourself forgetting things, such as colleagues’ names, where you kept your keys, or why you entered a room, you might be suffering from ‘momnesia’.

You’re certainly not to blame if you’re pregnant, or a new mom. Read on to find out why this happens, and how to fix it.

The Science Behind It:
Scientific research shows that around 80 percent of pregnant women go through some form of impaired cognitive functioning. This is only heightened once the baby arrives. Raging hormones and months of sleep deprivation aggravate the amnesia-like case of brain drain, sometimes referred to as ‘momnesia’. Maternal absentmindedness can be exacerbated by deficiencies of zinc, vitamin B-12, and folic acid, but a lack of iron has the greatest impact. During pregnancy, the baby’s growth uses up iron reserves and an increase in the mother’s blood volume dilutes them as well. Almost 25 percent of all pregnant women are iron-deficient. Added factors are powerful endocrine and brain chemistry shifts. Curt Sandman, PhD and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, explains that both the pituitary gland, which doubles in size during pregnancy, and the placenta, release chemical messages that influence the maternal and fetal brains.

The Solution:

  • Boost your iron intake with foods such as lean red meat, iron-fortified cereal, peas and beans, and nuts.
  • Pair legumes with vitamin-C-rich foods, like peppers and tomato, and cook in cast-iron pots, which release some of their iron. This helps, especially if you’re making something acidic, like a tomato-based gravy.
  • Save dairy foods for mid-meal snacks because calcium inhibits the absorption of iron. Calcium, which can also be obtained from non-dairy sources, helps boost memory.
  • Get organized with comprehensive lists of things to do, strategically place sticky notes with reminders, and choose fixed places for items.
  • Stay mentally active with puzzles and crafts to give yourself a break.
  • Being physically active also helps. Get back to the fitness regime with yoga or light jogging.
  • Keep your social connections alive by staying in touch with friends and relatives; they may be invaluable sources of help and advice.
  • Improve your sleep quality by napping for 60 minutes, possibly when your baby naps.
  • Mindfulness and meditation can be simple yet essential lifesavers.

Whether you are pregnant or a new mom, the best way to deal with a fuzzy brain and impaired memory is an attitudinal adjustment. Savoring your special moments can help to avoid resentment, depression or alarm because of the mental and the physical changes you are facing. After all, you definitely want to enjoy the unforgettable experience that is motherhood.

Read More:
27 Weeks Pregnant: Lie Down And Get Some Rest
28 Common Questions Of New Parents

Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.