My girls are almost 4 and 7 1/2, so I’ve had mom brain for approximately 8 years. 8 years of forgetting things, leaving stuff where it doesn’t belong, losing entire blocks of my vocabulary, the list goes on. On a GOOD day, I can say the right name for the corresponding child and/or animal in my house after one try. I don’t have very many good days. There’s a lot happening in my head, and it’s usually a jumbled mess! Moms understand this phenomenon known as mom brain, and we deal with it as best we can. But, as it turns out, it happens for a really good reason (and not just to drive us slowly mad). There’s an actual scientific reason our brains go to mush as soon as have a baby, and it makes so much sense.
Mom brain manifests itself in many different ways. And it sneaks up on you!
One day you’re a completely functional human being. And the next, you put the ice cream in the pantry and try to run the dishwasher with hand soap. It’s brutal.
We all know the physical toll of having a baby. But your brain goes through some pretty major changes, too. One study says that pregnancy changes the actual structure of your brain for at least two years after having a baby! Our brains are literally rewiring themselves to cater to the needs of these new little people. Psychologist Elseline Hoekzema, who worked on the research study, calls it “synaptic pruning”. Synaptic pruning is “where weak synapses are eliminated giving way to more efficient and specialised neural networks.”
Mothers in the study lost actual gray matter volume in their medial frontal and posterior cortex. Wild, right?
It sounds a little alarming, losing actual gray matter volume. But researchers see it as more of a fine-tuning; none of the moms in the study demonstrated any cognitive changes. Hoekzuma told the New York Times, “Grey matter volume loss does not necessarily represent a bad thing. It can also represent a beneficial process of maturation or specialisation.”
So the next time you find yourself exasperated over your mom brain, just remember: your brain is freaking AWESOME. IT REWIRED ITSELF in order to make you a better mom. So we forget stuff sometimes, big deal. Maybe we leave our keys in the car and the car running and the door wide open, WHO CARES. Your brain MacGuyver’d itself to help you care for your kids. Sounds like a lifetime pass to me.