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'Baby brain' - fact or fiction?

baby brain

You can’t remember where you put your car keys or the name of the woman you just bumped into at the shops - and you forgot to send that work document that’s only a week overdue...

Sound familiar? Admit this as a pregnant woman you’d probably be swiftly diagnosed as having ‘baby brain.’

But the long-held theory that pregnancy addles women’s brains has now been branded a myth by a major study.

Pregnancy brainpower

Research carried out by Professor Helen Christensen at the Australian National University in Canberra* tracked more than 2,000 women over ten years, testing their brainpower at different stages, and found there was no difference in women’s cognitive abilities before and during pregnancy.

It concluded that any absentmindedness is more likely to be because women’s attention understandably shifts to the baby and approaching birth. And some scientists think pregnancy and motherhood may actually improve women’s brainpower.

Christensen thinks part of the reason the ‘preg head’ myth continues is that pregnancy manuals tell women that they are likely to suffer from memory loss or have concentration problems and so they and their partners are “primed” to blame any slight memory lapse on pregnancy.

But a 2002 study by Angela Oatridge, of Hammersmith hospital in London, looked at brain scans of women before and after pregnancy and found a decline in size. According to her research reduction in brain size was reversed by six months after delivery.

The Royal College of Midwives has welcomed this latest study. Its general secretary, Cathy Warwick, said: “The physical and emotional stresses on a woman’s body from pregnancy can make women feel more tired than usual. As we all know tiredness — for men as well as women — can make us lose concentration and cause us to function less effectively.”

How to avoid tiredness:

  • During pregnancy acknowledge your changing body and the added strain it’s under; you won’t be able to rush around as much as before.
  • Take out ten minutes, sit and get your feet up when you’re feeling tired.
  • Eat small amounts regularly so your blood sugar doesn’t dip.
  • Take a daytime nap if possible – power naps can be hugely restorative.
  • Once the baby comes try to sleep when the baby sleeps during the day to cope with the night time waking.
  • Ask for help from friends and family so you can grab some time to relax, knowing the baby is safe and won’t disturb you.


* The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project started in 1999. Women were tested at four year intervals and during the eight years of the study they looked at the 20 – 24 year old women who became pregnant for the first time.

Overall no significant differences were found between the mothers, pregnant women and those who weren’t. The only difference noted was that late pregnancy was associated with poorer performance in the mental speed tests.

'Baby brain' - fact or fiction?

Comments Page 2

I'm 29 weeks pregnant & my brain has turned to mush! I lost my iron tablets an hour after collecting them & still can't remember where I put them! I'm constantly needing reminding of everything! I played 4 games of football on the xbox with my boyfriend and everytime we played I had to be reminded what color my teams kit was & which way I was scoring! I thought I was bad enough before I became pregnant, let alone now!
They say its a myth but I can honestly say I'm forgetting everything, even peoples names I work with. I was never like this before! I keep repeating myself because I havent realised Id just had the conversation mins earlier lol!
i had my baby brain before i even found out i was pregnant, i was about six weeks when i started locking up at work with my bag still inside, forgetting to put the tills in the safe. now i just have to write myself lists or get people to remind me all the time.
i have definatly got baby brain i work in a pub and before i was pregnant i could rember a list of drinks from 3 different customers at 1nce but no i have to ask people what they have asked for !!!! nightmare situation ( regular customers new i was pregnant befor i could tell people ) x i forget what i hav said to my bf and ask him the same thing again later and put a cup of fresh tea in the cupbord so yeh baby brain excists
I lost my mobile the other day, so rang it off the house phone...I heard a quiet distant ringing but couldnt find it.....eventually I located the quiet ringing in the cupboard with the plates?!?! I must have been putting the dishes away and put my phone down in there too lmao x
I lost a pack of ham and the measuring jug, had a go at my partner for hiding them from me and a few days later I found them both on the top shelf in the cupboard! Turns out I put them there myself :S and I nearly flooded the bath and the kitchen sink a few times when I forgot I was filling them up!
I find that I'm getting the words wrong for things and often can't remember what im about to say even if I'm half way through a sentence!
i have serious baby brain i forget everythin and was ironin for an hour the other day before realising that i hadnt even turned it on :s
I definitely had baby brain while I was pregnant! I couldn't find my glasses one morning after 10 minutes of searching I wondered why I could see everything perfectly. I looked in the mirror and found I was wearing them. Oh and another one I was looking for my phone, my other half burst out laughing and told me it was in my hand :D
I was always organized and procedural in nature since Im a dentist by profession. I can just memorize procedures or chapters of a book, but now that Im 7 weeks pregnant, i completely lost it. Last night, i subconsciously took a baby bottle to be taken upstairs for my 20-month old son. Still, I look for the missing baby bottle I just prepared in the kitchen, and when I got really exhausted I asked my hubby if he took it, he said I brought it upstairs. I just cant believe I cant remember.
I'm 7 weeks pregnant and last night I subconsciously take a baby bottle upstairs for my 20-month old to drink but then, I asked my hubby if he took it, I went down to the kitchen to look for it when it was already where I wanted it to be. I just cant believe I cant remember.
Before i was pregnant i was always good at paying attention and remembering things, comes from being very organised i think! I am now 35 weeks pregnant and my husband will ask me to do something and 5 seconds later i would have forgotten what he asked me to do!! So i believe that the baby brain is definately true!!! But then again it may just be that you are thinking about all the baby stuff and you are very tired!!
I agree I think it was a man who came to this conclustion. I am 12 wks pregnant with my first one but I think I have baby brain already as this morning I couldn't remember the name of the condition that I get on my fingers when they get cold!! A couple of weeks ago I couldn't remember where i put my cars but I had left them at my friends house across the road!! Also last night I was showing photo's to a friend from a holiday at Christmas and coudln't remember the people in the photo's!! But I haven't done things like putting kettles in fridges etc but I better not speak to soon either.
it is obvulasly a man who came to this conclusion i would like to meet me and then see if baby brain is real. all the stuff i've done like lock myself out of my car while the engine was running, i still don't know how i managed that. its like braxton hicks a man came up with them they don't know what its like so its easy for them to say it doesnt hurt or it doesn't exsit please swap places with me for a day and then you can make your conclusion. and then you will relise when we moan
my memory wasn't good before i got pregnant but has just seemed to get worse as time goes on, i get really confused easy aswell like i was about to put the kettle in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard!! my fiance finds it very amusing!!
yes i agree with you it happy to me when i frist had my baby i was confused forgot things easily i can not remember where i pull things it every defficult time for me but with friends i got over it
My other half calls me placenta brain, my memory was excellent now its pants!!!! Finding things in very unusual places and argue over conversations that I know I didn't have but he says I did!!!!!!!! Very odd!!!!!! xxx
I definatly have baby brain, although how tired i am could explain it! I opened all the windows down stairs yesterday and then shouted at my fiance for opening them and letting the heat out. Bless he looked so confused!
Baby brain doesnt exist?????? what a load of cobblers!!!! i go shoppingg with a list and still forget to get things on it as i forget i have a list, i NEVER used to use a list. what on earth has happened to my brain/memory if it isnt baby brain?
I've defo got baby brain, can't remember the day of the week most the time, lol x.
my due date is 2nd of april but there's no sign of labour,i m tired of waiting,don't know when will i meet my baby.
My daughter Holly is 15 weeks I have another 2 girls elly at 3 and abby whos nearly 8, Ive had baby brain for 8 years, This week alone 1. Ive put the Flash spray in the fridge, 2.Wrote on my 3 year old neices birthday card To Evie Happy Birthday Lots of Evie, 3. Walked away from the A.T.M cash machine to take my 3 year old to the toilet which resulted in the £200 cash being sucked bak in to the machine now I have to wait 10-12 working days to get it back Arggghhhhhhhhhhh Its only Wednesday lol ill survive x
My son is now 10 months old and I still have baby brain.. I dont know if its the extra things I need to remember which makes it all too much but I have a rubbish memory name and resort to post it notes lol
ive deffinatly got baby brain, i asked hubby for a glass of squash so he went away and returned with my drink and he returned to the other room, i drank the squash (pretty fast) looked down at the glass and had complealy forgot how i had got the glass and as hubby walked back through the room i asked him for a glass of squash to which i got the reply "but you have only just had one" confused for a second i suddely remeberd and there have been sevral other happings equally baby brained
it definately exsists im usually quite sharp but now i cant remember a thing.
i have baby brain!i poured hot water from kettle in to tea bag pot instead of my cup and last nite i nearly poured sugerpuffs into my tea instead of milk!!!so i think baby brain is real!
I definitely suffered with baby brain during my pregnancy and when my son was very young - perhaps it was related to tiredness! I found I had to write everything down and had post it notes in every pocket and on every surface (bedside table, kitchen worktop, fridge etc). That is why I created my new product for parents - a laminated notebook to record important daily events (sleeps, feeds, nappies etc) but wipe clean again to start a new day tomorrow. Its called a ToDoDid because its things to do and things I did - have a look at this and my notepads on www.tododid.co.uk or email me on info@tododid.co.uk for more info!
I feel more scatty and inclined to blame it on the pregnancy. But am also so tired that it's taking all my concentration to stay focussed on normal things. So I can see the reasoning behind what the midwives say.
Ooooh all of those comments made me laugh so much!!! hahaha I find it hilarious when people do silly things like putting kettles in fridges and milk in cupboards!! I actually also feel bad too!! I haven't had anything like that just yet, I am only 9 weeks though so i'd better not speak too soon!! :)