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Sharp Health News

Is pregnancy ‘baby brain’ a real thing?

March 14, 2016

Pregnancy brain

If you are pregnant, you and those around you may start to notice something odd. You put your keys in the freezer. You forget about lunch with your sister. The age-old excuse for these symptoms of memory and concentration loss has always been “baby brain.”

“‘Baby brain’ or ‘pregnancy brain,’ is described as increased forgetfulness, a feeling of fogginess, being easily distracted and having jumbled thoughts,” says Dr. Kim Goodwin, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. “For instance, there was the time I found my TV remote control in the refrigerator when I was pregnant.”

While Dr. Goodwin believes she dealt first-hand with “baby brain,” there is still some debate whether it merits its own diagnosis. “Studies done on pregnant women have shown no changes in the brain structure and function,” she says.

With an experience that seems so universal to pregnant women, there has to be some explanation.

“There are many reasons that can explain why a pregnant woman might not feel so mentally quick,” says Dr. Goodwin. “It could be sleep deprivation, anticipation of a major life event, stress or hormones,” she says. “All of these factors can affect your mental sharpness.”

According to Dr. Goodwin, the first thing to know is that these symptoms of “baby brain” are common and normal.

Ways to fight “baby brain”

  • Get more sleep during pregnancy
  • Use tools to aid in recollection, like making lists or setting alarms
  • Ask for help with responsibilities to keep your head more focused

Unfortunately, once the baby is born, the brain fog may not lift immediately.

“Whether or not these symptoms persist beyond pregnancy depends on many factors, such as sleep deprivation and stress,” says Dr. Goodwin. Given the unpredictability of a newborn’s sleep schedule, ‘baby brain’ could continue for months after giving birth.

While “‘baby brain” is a cute way of saying “mental exhaustion,“ Dr. Goodwin assures that this phenomenon is not unusual to experience during pregnancy — and even for months after. She admits to claiming “baby brain” from time-to-time years after the birth of her own child.

For the media: To speak with a Sharp-affiliated OBGYN about “baby brain” or other pregnancy-related topics, contact Senior Public Relations Specialist Erica Carlson at erica.carlson@sharp.com or 858-499-3052.

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