Forgetfulness during pregnancy is called ‘pregnancy brain’ or sometimes called ‘mumnesia’, and it is completely normal and common. You may find yourself having trouble remembering where you placed your house keys or if you’ve locked the car door. Concentrating might be a struggle too. The good news is, this is all temporary.

Having a baby is a very exciting time hence it is completely normal for your focus to be shifting towards the baby and away from yourself. You may be preoccupied with the prospect of childbirth, caring for a baby, worries about labour and how you will handle motherhood hence you may find it harder to maintain your focus and concentrate during pregnancy.

A surge in progesterone and estrogen levels during pregnancy also affects all kinds of neurons in the brain and when a woman delivers, there are huge surges of oxytocin that cause the uterus to contract and the body to produce milk and they also affect the brain circuits.

When you’re tired and short on sleep due to a number of sleep-busting conditions during pregnancy (especially in the first and third trimester) this can also contribute to memory lapses.

Things you can do to help you cope with ‘pregnancy brain’:

  • Write it down– your grocery list, list of questions for your obstetrician or midwife, errands to get done. Keep a note pad and pen handy in your handbag or car. Or download an app to help you organise your tasks/your day.
  • Have a sense of humour– don’t beat yourself up over your forgetfulness instead have a good laugh about it and encourage your partner to do the same.
  • Get plenty of rest– this may be tricky but if you’re having disrupted sleep at night, try to fit in naps when you can during the day. Studies have found that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and memory.
  • Ensure your diet consists of Omega 3 Fish oil– Adequate intake of Omega-3 fats is important in both the development of a healthy baby and your own health. Omega-3s have been found to be essential for both neurological and early visual development of the baby.
  • Treat yourself- Give yourself that opportunity to daydream and be spacey and that could help you be more clearheaded when you go back to the office. Take a long leisurely bath or go for a stroll or jot down your thoughts in a journal.

Finally, don’t forget that this is a special time in your life, it is all right to be forgetful and preoccupied.

Article by Dr Peter England

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