Motherhood brings with it a host of changes in a woman, be it physical or mental. One of the many changes that hormonal fluctuations can cause is amnesia as the hormones alter the functional ability of the brain. Around 50-80% of expectant mothers report having memory lapse or concentration problems during or post-delivery, a phenomenon that is also described as “Momnesia” or “pregnant brain”.
What is momnesia?
“As part of a neuropsychological research, a memory performance test was done on 412 pregnant women, 272 mothers and 386 non-pregnant females. Pregnant women experienced the worst problems in memory tasks, which were more challenging. Though clinical test differ from research studies and negate any structural changes in the brain during pregnancy, studies have proven functional changes are real,” said Dr Shallu Kakkar, Fortis La Femme, Jaipur.
She cites another scientific study where the MRIs of pregnant women showed that some gray matter was lost during pregnancy, particularly in those parts of the brain which are responsible for social reasoning and the ability to see other people’s perspectives.
Researchers have speculated that this loss is the result of the brain giving up focus on the neural network that the mother doesn’t need, which can prepare her to bond with her baby better. Lifestyle changes are also important, as factors like stress, anxiety and sleepless nights can all interfere with the functioning of the brain.
While slight memory loss is normal, it is advisable to visit a doctor if forgetfulness is accompanied with other behavioural changes like feeling gloomy or a loss in appetite and interest in other activities.
How to deal with the memory loss:
Some of the nutrients that can help to reduce memory loss are magnesium, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids. Add foods that boost concentration like blueberries, beetroot, coconut, walnuts, whole grains and tomatoes to your diet as well.
* Keeping notes of activities works wonders when your memory is not reliable.
* Maintain a certain order at home and keep things where they belong.
* Try mnemonic devices. If you meet a new person, think of an association to help you remember the person’s name.
* Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. A sleep-deprived brain malfunctions more often.
* Do exercises to keep your body and mind healthy and stress-free.
* Share the work burden with your partner and family to avoid overworking and stress.