For long, it has been believed that a woman is more forgetful and air-headed while with child than the rest of the time. Called “baby brain” or “preg head,” this was a condition that reportedly changed an expectant mother’s life for the worse. A new study comes now to prove not only that “baby brain” is an unfounded myth, but that it also got things wrong, since a woman’s mental abilities are actually improved during pregnancy – and it could be permanent.
Researchers under Professor Helen Christensen of the Australian National University in Canberra supervised almost 2,500 women over a period of ten years. Because this study analyzed their mental abilities before, during, and after pregnancy, it proves beyond a doubt that “baby brain” is just a myth. On the contrary, it is being said, a woman’s brain benefits during pregnancy, since parts of it are being “remodeled” to adapt to child-rearing and all that it entails.
Nevertheless, as Professor Christensen also points out for the Daily Mail, the study cannot explain why both women and their partners would insist that their brain is suffering from pregnancy, when it’s obvious this is not the case. “Perhaps women notice minor lapses in mental ability and then attribute it to being pregnant because that is the most significant thing in their mind at the time. Or sleep deprivation could mask the positive cognitive effects.” the Professor explains.
Unlike what has been said so far, this lengthy study stresses that, while changes do occur in the brain during pregnancy, they are actually for the better and might as well be permanent from what is known at this moment. “One might assume that women were more likely to have better, not worse, mental ability during pregnancy compared to before, and that the improvements could be permanent,” Christensen shares.
Previous studies on rats also showed that young mothers were more brave and bold after giving birth, as Dr. Kinsley tells the Daily Mail. “While a woman may experience an apparent loss of brain function while she is pregnant, this could be because parts of her brain are being remodeled in preparation for dealing with the complicated demands of child-rearing. The changes that kick in then could last for the rest of their lives, bolstering cognitive abilities and protecting them against degenerative diseases.” Kinsley explains.