I used to have a great memory. I was the one my friends asked when they couldn’t remember the name of a high school classmate or a song they played at our Senior prom. These days, I feel lucky if I can remember what day it is and whether or not I ate lunch. I blame my three children for the decline. My mind is now filled with feeding times, where the kids need to be this afternoon and whether or not they got a bath yet today. Parts of my past are a total blur, and if I think about it, parts of my present are kind of a blur too. Good thing my husband still has a great memory to remind me of the things I forget.
I’ve often heard this referred to as “Mommy Brain”. Ask any new, sleep-deprived mom about it, and she’ll likely say she’s been more forgetful than usual. Many moms of older children (including me) say the forgetfulness never seems to go away. I’m hoping that once my kids become a little more independent, my mind will become a little less cluttered. Then hopefully, I’ll be able to remember what I need to do for the day without having to write everything down.
I struggle with “Mommy Brain” on a daily basis, so I was intrigued by the results of a study that showed parts of a mother’s brain might actually grow after giving birth. The study, published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, scanned the brains of new moms a few weeks after giving birth, and then again a few months later. They found small but significant growth in a few different areas of the brain, including the hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala.
“These are the areas that motivate a mother to take care of her baby, feel rewarded when the baby smiles at her, and fill her with positive emotions from simple interactions with her infant. These brain areas are also involved in planning and foresight, which might help a mother anticipate her infant's needs and be prepared to meet them. … The researchers speculate that pregnancy hormones prime the brain to be open to reshaping when a newborn arrives. … What's more, mothers who talked most positively about their babies underwent the biggest changes.”
Although that doesn’t explain why I can’t remember where I put my car keys, it might explain the “mother’s instinct” I’ve felt with each of my kids from the very beginning. I never understood where that came from, especially because I don’t consider myself to be a “kid” person. But these changes in the brain seem to motivate moms to take care of their new babies and feel a sense of accomplishment when they do. Caring for my kids takes top priority in my brain right now.
What do you think? If you have children, did you notice a change in your memory after you had them? What have you done to combat the problem?
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