Pregnancy Brain: Why It Happens & How To Cope

For some pregnant women, joining the list of pregnancy upsets such as nausea, fatigue, constipation, heartburn, backaches, sleepless nights, and so on, is the often frustrating memory lapses or forgetfulness, tagged ‘pregnancy brain’.

According to some studies, factors including the anxiety and stress associated with pregnancy and fluctuating hormones may be responsible. While worrying endlessly about your health and baby’s, antenatal appointments, baby bills, and so on, may overwhelm you, affecting your ability to promptly store and recall information, high levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy may also have negative effects on memory.

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These hormones are also said to aid the growth of new brain circuits which helps a mother focus on her baby and interpret his cues when born. This fresh brain activity may also contribute to forgetfulness in some pregnant women.

If you’re pregnant and currently battling ‘pregnancy brain’, find 9 tips to help you manage the situation…

1. Write down your tasks

Make a habit of writing down things you need to do in the short and long term, including bills to settle, baby’s shopping, important calls and visits to make, hospital appointments (venue(s) and dates), and so on, in a diary or the calendar app on your phone. Also, set alarms for when to take your drugs or supplements throughout the day.

You should also note other essentials in your diary as they crop up or you recall them, so you’re less likely to miss any important stuff.

2. Focus on doing one thing at a time

Make a to-do list for the day in the mornings, and stick on your refrigerator, place in your bag or a drawer at home and use as guide for the day, striking each out as you accomplish them.

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This really helped me as often times as I would remember so many things I needed to do for the day when I woke up, only to get into the kitchen wondering what else I needed to do apart from cooking. Sometimes, I couldn’t even remember what I had planned to cook. It was just frustrating!

3. Take a break

When you find yourself struggling to concentrate or recall, try shutting your eyes for a while without thinking about anything and take a deep breath. Lie down and take a nap, if you can. I found this calming and quite helpful as well.

4. Assign spots for specific items

Becoming more organized also helps. Create dedicated spots for items used regularly such as keys and make sure you return them there after each use. It would save you the frustration of not knowing where to look each time because you can’t recall where you placed them after the last use.

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5. Exercise

This will do your memory a world of good. The memory is said to be sharpest after a workout (try swimming or walking). Daily exercise can also boost concentration, ability to recall and aid better sleep at night.

6. Have a support system

Share your thoughts, concerns, to-dos and so on with your spouse, children, friends and family. Since they would notice your ‘pregnancy brain’, which they’ll often tease you about it, chances are that if you forget anything important at any point, they’ll gladly remind you or help fix the mistake(s) your omission might have caused.

7. Manage stress

Try as much as you can to keep stress at the barest minimum. Try to minimize pressure (review your daily routine if need be and prioritize), curb anxiety, and ask your doctor about best ways to manage stressful pregnancy symptoms as stress may also contribute to brain fog.

See tips to manage stress during pregnancy here.

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8. Try to get more sleep

Adequate sleep boosts memory but we all know getting this while pregnant, especially in the third trimester, may be a tall order. Still, try to nap as much as you can and relax during the day. This will help reduce the usual anxiety or worries associated with pregnant and may boost your memory.

To get better sleep at night, see useful tips here.

9. Eat foods rich Omega-3s

Include lots of foods rich in Omega-3s including oily fish, eggs and walnuts in your diet. They help improve overall brain health and function.

Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. Laugh about it. It will soon pass!

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