Post Pregnancy Memory Loss

From the moment I fell pregnant until several months after returning to work, my brain ceased to function at quite the rate it used to.  It shifted down from fifth gear to first.  Sometimes reverse.  The famous post-pregnancy memory loss or “baby-brain” had taken over my mind.

Sentences were started but not completed.  Antenatal appointments were completely forgotten, or I would arrive on the wrong day or at the wrong time.  Messages were taken on the phone, only to be forgotten the moment the caller had hung up.  Keys and mobile phones were misplaced and forgotten.  Seemingly, my memory was spent!  I could retain nothing and remember less.

Post-pregnancy memory loss or ‘Baby brain’ seems to effect all women who become mothers.   Pregnancy hormones, lack of sleep and the constant repetition of tasks render your brain somewhat ‘fuzzy’.  The brain does a very clever thing after the birth of your child as it makes you ‘forget’ practically everything about the birth and the early days that follow.  This is nature’s way of ensuring that the population will continue to thrive, as we will more than likely forget the reality of birth and being a new mother, and possibly do it all over again. 

Having a baby is exhausting, both physically and mentally.  When you start managing to go about your day on only three hours sleep a night, sometimes for weeks or months on end, your body seemingly runs out of juice and decides to fall back on an internal generator.  Sadly, this internal generator only allows your brain to function in a low gear, a gear designed only to deal with those things deemed necessary for survival.   Quick thinking, completing crossword puzzles, doing Mensa tests and adding up your grocery bill in your mind are simply not necessary for survival, and as such they do not happen.   New moms are limited to thinking about the basics such as feeding your baby or changing his nappy.

At first ‘baby brain’ can sometimes be construed as amusing or funny, but after a while, when the new mom begins to realise that these forgetful incidents are not easing up, it can become extremely frustrating and embarrassing.

One tip for new mums is to keep a small note book and pen at hand all of the time, specifically after the baby has been born.  By writing down the details of your baby’s feeds, what time he fed, and from which side if breastfeeding, you will at least begin to see some clarity in a world where everything seems a little hazy around the edges.  With the constant feeding and sleeping, you simply cannot remember small details like when your baby last fed, and if his last dirty nappy was today or yesterday, nevermind when the midwife is supposed to visit. 

An old adage says that, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’.  Once you have managed to catch up on your sleep, try to engage your brain in something new and slightly challenging.  Going back to work where your memory has to count for something is useful in retraining your memory.  Otherwise, if going back to work is not an option at this point, then find other challenging ways to flex your memory muscles and get them back into shape.

Before long you will mostly be back to your former self.  You might still forget keys, or wonder where you have put your mobile, but for the most part you will begin to remember again… and this time with many new memories to add to your collection.