Sometimes I’m left wondering if I am indeed, seriously unwell.
You see, ever since I birthed my child 2 years ago I forget stuff. A lot of stuff. Actually, a worrying amount of stuff.
It’s not that I forget to eat (ha, NEVAAR!) or pick my son up from daycare, it’s more that I open the fridge and forget what I was making. I open a new tab in my internet browser and forget what I was meant to be looking for. I remember I have forgotten to get soy milk, race down the soy milk aisle to grab it and by the time I am in there, surrounded by various long life milk options, I have no idea what it was I needed.
It’s terrifying and infuriating. But it also feels that, with the “baby” bit of life well behind me, blaming my “baby brain” is not really a viable option.
Or is it?
Pregnancy is a profound and obviously life-changing event for any woman – physically, emotionally, intellectually – but new research now shows it also irrevocably changes our brains … and it goes way beyond being just a case of “baby brain“.
Few women who have been through pregnancy would be surprised to learn that the hormonal effects of childbearing have a lasting effect on the female brain.
The findings were published by Canadian academic Dr Liisa Galea at the University of British Columbia. “Our most recent research shows that previous motherhood alters cognition and neuroplasticity in response to hormone therapy, demonstrating that motherhood permanently alters the brain,” Galea said.
Did you hear that? Motherhood permanently alters the brain. Dammit, I knew it!
The old saying is actually true. Source: someecards.com
Baby-brain is not just for new mums
According to the study, the type of estrogen produced by older women negatively affected the neuroplasticity (brain’s ability to learn new things) of animal test subjects who had borne children. In other words, the main estrogen produced by post-menopausal women was making it harder for mothers in their middle age and beyond to learn new skills and harming new memory creation.
On the other hand, the memories and mental agility of females who had not experienced pregnancy were improved by exposure to this hormone. Post-menopausal hormones improved the continued function of non-pregnant rats’ brains.
Exposure to the type of estrogen produced by young women improved cognitive outcomes for mothers and non-mothers alike.
Dr Galea said the research argued for past pregnancy status to be considered when designing hormone treatments to treat brain disorders in women.