Pregnancy Brain Actually Lasts For Years, Science Says
Moms everywhere just read that headline and said, “Well, DUH!” really sarcastically, didn't they?
Yeah, I get it. Because those of us who have gone through pregnancy definitely know that something is up in that ol' brain of ours. We may have gotten pregnant and suddenly realized that we were more forgetful than normal. Or couldn't sleep like normal or concentrate like normal. Or remember what the heck we walked into the room for anymore (unless it was into the kitchen for ice cream, DUH) and then shrugged our shoulders and accepted that this way of thinking was our new normal until the baby came. Pregnancy brain. Sigh.
And then the baby came and we were still forgetting stuff or spacey or just totally different. We thought, “Oh, it's just sleep deprivation! It will get better!” Except it never actually really got better and then maybe more babies came and before you knew it, you were standing alone sneaking ice cream in the kitchen without any recollection of how you get there. #beenthere
The point is, we know that motherhood changes a lot and most of us simply chalk up those changes to exhaustion or stress or normal life stuff. But a new study has proven that pregnancy actually changes our brains in very physical ways. And what's more — those changes last for years.
The study, out of the journal Nature Neuroscience, used research from Leiden University in the Netherlands and was one of the first of its kind to study the effects of pregnancy on a woman's brain long-term. They found that the changes that occur in a woman's brain, what we call pregnancy brain, actually last for at least two years.
Specifically, the gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for bonding with and responding to her child expand significantly in volume. Scientists have speculated that the changes could be due to the huge amount of estrogen that floods a woman brain during pregnancy. The amount of estrogen a pregnant woman has during just one pregnancy is actually more than a woman who is never pregnant will experience in an entire lifetime. Crazy, right?
And just to make sure it wasn't a universal parenting thing, the researchers also studied dads and found that the gray matter in their brains did not change in the same way mothers did. The changes seem to happen only specifically in mothers, sometimes drastically changing the very literal way a woman's brain works and interprets the world around her. So moms, just take this finding as further proof that you're awesome. Even science says so!
Did you experience pregnancy brain? If so, how long did it last?