If you've experienced pregnancy, or known someone who has, you've probably heard jokes about pregnancy making people forgetful, absent-minded, and possibly even less intelligent. Turns out, there's some truth to those quips, because pregnancy brain is totally real. Sure, it's kind of the worst, but thankfully there are things you can totally blame pregnancy brain for that at least give you an "out." Kind of.
The good news? Pregnancy doesn't actually kill brain cells. When you're growing a human being inside your body, you're still brilliant, even if you can't think of that word on the tip of your tongue or remember your partner's name. Even the time you accidentally put your purse in the fridge doesn't negate your overall IQ, I promise. Unfortunately, after your baby is born, pregnancy brain will give way to mommy brain, and you may be stuck with a horrible memory and short attention span for good. Well, at least until your kids leave for college. I'm assuming.
Not that you can or should always get off the hook easily for forgetting important events, falling asleep mid-conversation, or not being able to find your car in the parking lot, but pregnancy brain isn't just some half-assed excuse. Whether it's hormones, physiological changes, or actually an evolutionary trait that helps prepare us to be awesome moms; pregnancy changes the way we think, feel, and, at times, even our ability to function.
So, when you can't remember your mom's name or the PIN number you've had since always, know that it's not your fault. You are growing a human, and that's a big freakin' deal. So, with that in mind, here are ten things you should totally not feel guilty about blaming pregnancy brain for.
When You Forget Everything
Whether it's hormones, lack of sleep, or the stress of growing a tiny human in your body, pregnant people find themselves forgetting a lot of things. Even following basic steps — like turning off the oven before they leave the house — can be difficult; probably because said pregnant woman can't remember where her house is located or if they have an oven.
It can be infuriating and frightening to not be able to remember if you fed the fish (my current nemesis), picked up your child from daycare, or your cat's name. Don't feel bad. Blame pregnancy brain.
When Your Train Of Thought Derails
Pregnancy brain totally makes me lose track of what I was saying, usually mid-sentence. I don't have enough fingers to count the number of times I ask, "What were we just talking about?" or when I simply stop talking because I forgot what I was going to say next. All I know is that it happens almost every single day.
When You Have Emotional Outbursts
Hormones don't just make you forget, they can also make you emotional. Like when you see an AARP commercial and start crying, because you are sad that your parents will die eventually. Or, when your partner eats the last donut and now they're completely dead to you. Then, of course, there's the moment when you forget your child's dress up day at school and suddenly feel like the worst mom ever. Blame pregnancy brain.
When You Feel Sad
Hormones change the way our brain works. It's totally normal to experience sadness or ambivalent regarding your pregnancy or becoming a mother. Just remember, if this sadness becomes too intense and you feel that way all of the time, it's time to ask your obstetric's provider for help. There's now tons of safe and effective options for treating prenatal depression. In the meantime, just blame pregnancy brain.
When You Fall Asleep Mid-Sentence
Pregnancy exhaustion is no joke. With the exception of a few weeks of energy during the second trimester, my pregnancies made me so sleepy, I usually felt like I pulled an all-nighter in college and was trying to stay awake in class.
It's not surprising, when you consider that a tiny human is literally living and growing inside of you and hormones are coursing through your veins.
When You Have Difficulty Paying Attention
A foggy, constantly sleepy brain (and usually a little anxiety) causes my mind to wander; sometimes so far away that I have serious trouble paying attention to even the most important things. I also find myself making lists in my head and daydreaming about the future.
What was that I was writing? Sorry, I got sidetracked. Blame pregnancy brain.
When You Lose At Jeopardy
Since becoming pregnant, I have suddenly become seriously horrible at Scrabble, Jeopardy, and even helping my second grader with her homework. It's totally annoying and completely disrupts my ability to appear to know everything (an ability I take pride in, thank you very much).
Fortunately, there's my old standby answer: "Let's Google it." I totally blame pregnancy brain.
When Your Priorities Change
Research shows that pregnancy doesn't actually make you less intelligent, it's just that your brain learns to prioritize. It's like you only have a limited number of shelves in your brain, your pregnancy brain decides to let baby fill all of them, so your focus stays on her and gives everything else a backseat. This can be super helpful from an evolutionary standpoint; moms stay focused on their kids' needs, but super annoying when that new-found focus is at the expense of other important things. Start making lists and try to get some sleep. Oh, totally blame pregnancy brain, too.
When You Worry About Everything
Pregnancy can be a time of wonder and joy, but also one of worry. From the time you get pregnant, you worry until the first ultrasound and hearing baby's heartbeat, and then you worry about every ache and pain, and then, you worry when your baby moves or does not move, and then, you worry when you think you are in labor, but aren't sure. There are evolutionary reasons for worrying, even when it consumes us. When you have a newborn, you startle awake and worry if they are breathing, and then check on them frequently. These brain changes are frustrating, but help us become attentive moms. And you can totally blame pregnancy brain.
When You Obsess About Things
All of these things in combination — heightened emotions, forgetfulness, anxiety, and fear — can make pregnant people seriously obsess about doing it all, getting things right, and making sure every single detail of your pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is perfect (despite the fact that you are tired, confused, and foggy).
I'll tell you a secret: nobody is perfect, but chances are, you are doing just fine. Relax. Throw your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and your unrealistic birth plan in the trash, and if you can't remember what comes next, blame pregnancy brain.