Momnesia: Is 'Mom Brain' Real? 10 Ways To Help You Cope
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Like our own secret power that can read into our baby’s or children’s mind to know exactly what it is they want. But no. Sadly it isn’t. Sigh. But it would be pretty cool if it were though 😁.
As moms, we carry a million and one things on our minds. From work, to household, to social life, to baby, to family, to keeping up with world issues, it’s a no-brainer (pun intended) that we find ourselves struggling to remember the smallest details. It’s no joke, I’ve lived through it. Probably still going through it though my daughter is a ripe 4 year old 🤫
Hormones and responsibilities
A lot of mothers complain about foggy brain memory during postpartum but guess what? Preggo moms do too! Studies have shown that pregnant moms do experience this lapse in thinking and memory during their pregnancy as their hormones can sometimes go on overdrive therefore, effecting their spatial memory. The spatial memory is the brain component that helps us remember where things are and how to get from location to another. Which is why mom brain is also termed pregnancy brain.
For new moms in postpartum, this is also another recurring event whereby day-to-day you’re constantly going to find yourself asking annoying questions such as, “did I shower this morning? brush my teeth?”, “where did I place baby’s pacifier?”, “did I wash this bottle yet?” and even forgetting common words like ‘tissue’ when you need it 🤦🏻♀️. This happens so often to moms due to several factors. Similar to pregnant mothers, motherhood comes with a whole load of surging hormones where we’re trying to cope, adapt and understand our new role. It’s no wonder that minor details in our daily routine get pushed back into the little gray area in our brain as new priorities take center stage.
According to an interview done by New York Times, Abigail Tucker, an author and science writer notes that “the hormones of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding prompt a host of genetic changes that ultimately shift our brain architecture,”. This explains how our mental processing is wired a little differently once we enter motherhood.
A major contributing factor is predominately caused by our lack of sleep. Being sleep deprived will result in poor cognitive performance causing us to be blur, less sharp and definitely more tired. As mothers, we lose a chunk of our precious sleep attending to our (also precious) little ones.
“Women accumulate up to 700 hours of sleep debt in the first year after having a baby, and that causes the brain not to be at its best for things other than caring for the baby.” Louann Brizendine, Louann Brizendine, MD, director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, 2010.
Well we’ve already talked about the negatives, but what about the positives? Is it wishful thinking to hope that there’s some positives that can come from having mom brain? And yes, mamas, like in every blog post I write, our bodies are beautiful. Especially more so when we become mothers. Despite how forgetful we are, tired, or how stressful the situation may be at that time, some mothers credit their mommy brain to helping them prioritize better.
It’s because moms don’t always have time on our side, we channel a lot of our focus on trying to manage our time more wisely driving us to be more productive, creative and better multitaskers. Another upside to having mom brain is that the change in our brains have molded us to be more responsive to our baby’s cues. So mama, next time don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s believed that these biochemical changes help support the bond between a mother and child 💗.
10 Ways to Cope with Mom Brain
So now that we know mom brain isn’t a figment of our imagination, here are 10 easy tips to help you cope with mommy brain:
1. Writing things down
Jotting things down really helps. You may not be much of a jotter before, but trust me, this tip comes in handy! If you’re scared you might misplace the piece of note/grocery list, jot it down in your phone! Our phones are practically connected to us so have things written down in your Notes app or planner will do wonders to unload our memory storage.
Save little memories such as milestone dates – when your baby walked, his first words or even little reminders like what book you wanted to buy, the name of the café you want to visit next. Pen it down.
2. Get more sleep
Don’t laugh, I know sleep is always somewhat more of joke than an antidote for mothers. But I mean it, mamas. It may be tricky, especially for new parents, but getting more sleep makes a ton of difference. Momnesia happens when we don’t get enough hours of deep sleep as information is strengthen in our brains when we sleep. So the better the sleep, the sharper our focus and memory.
Tip: take a nap when baby naps. I know it's easier said then done, but try to plan your day around your baby's nap time so that you too can sleep, mama.
Making time for yourself is one of the things your body will thank you for. We mom always overestimate ourselves and that results in taking on too much. Multitasking too much. Feeling too much. In the end, hurting ourselves too much.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you catch yourself feeling a little more tired and unfocused than usual, take a break. Recharge by doing things that unwind you. Stealing yourself away from responsibilities helps adjust your way of thinking too as stress overload can also clog your focus. Watch your favorite K-drama, make that coffee you’ve been yearning for (enjoy it hot!), do some painting, read, anything, as long as you are relaxed and come back recharged.
What’s my way? Music, a good hot cuppa chai latte and a book, mommas!
4. Balance your diet
Folic acid is one of the nutrients key to a pregnant woman. Mother’s after giving birth are also encouraged to continue taking their folic acid supplements as this nutrient helps with memory. However, including iron in your diet helps strengthen your memory the most. Iron can be found in:
- fortified cereals
- beans and lentils
5. Do less
We’re not robots. It’s not expected of us to overperform now that we are mothers. We’re still humans who’s bound to make mistakes, so instead my advice is - live in the moment. Know when to tap in and tap out. Because if you’re constantly flipping switches in your brain on the list of things to do, then tendency for your brain to fry, is there.
You need to be able to channel some focus in order to remember. Hence, if you find it too overwhelming to take your tasks, delegate. Cut down on things to remember.
My motto is to always find a way to simplify life 💕.
6. Exercise your brain
Not many take the time out to exercise their brain. Nor do many actually understand the power of exercising the brain. This may or may not improve mom brain issues but it does help stimulate the brain by challenging your memory or thinking skills. So try a game of sudoku or crosswords puzzles, who knows? It may just be a new hobby.
7. Don't be shy to ask for help
Motherhood can be really stressful and overbearing sometimes. Don’t worry you’re not alone. Even the happiest mother may have felt this but what helps a ton is recognizing when it is all TOO MUCH. What we want to avoid is, burnout. So anytime you feel like its all too taxing, ask for help.
To be honest, this was one thing that I struggled with. I found it so hard to seek help because I didn’t want to trouble others. I also didn’t know how capable others were with the tasks I needed help with. But then I realized, worry about others without even asking was only causing me more stress and making me more tired. So try to loosen your expectations and if others offer a hand, let them help you.
If you can hire help, explore that option. Do what works for you and your family.
8. Exercise your body
Mind, body and soul. We talk about mental health so much that sometimes we forget that our body needs attention too. The longer we deprive our bodies of proper TLC, it will begin to deteriorate. Physical exercise is known to help wonders with curbing stress. Try to get your body moving be it with a jog, a Zumba class, a run on the treadmill or yoga workouts that allows you to be in tune with your breathing.
There’s also countless ways to get your baby involved too if you can’t part from your child:
- Put them in a stroller and go for a nature walk
- hold your baby while you do squats
- go swimming and take turns with your husband to swim with baby
- These are also some bonding moments for you to help de-stress yourself.
9. Plan ahead
I’ve found that planning ahead by having everything prepared in advanced before an appointment, meeting or just going, helps a lot. Go through what you need to pack or have ready the night before by either writing it down and executing it or getting your partner to help you in any case you forget something.
10. Get a routine going
Routines are also super useful as it increase predictability. You also free some mental load because your brain isn’t constantly trying to remember things.
Routines need to somewhat happen naturally. Forcing a routine may cause you to lapse in remembering that particular task because it wasn’t “natural”. For example, your baby’s needs will change from time to time so be flexible.
Now that I’ve shared with you some of the tips that’s help many mothers including me to cope with our mom brain, I hope you will find some of these useful to help you too. Just like we miss our pre-pregnancy bodies, our pre-pregnancy brains will return with better sleep and better stress management.
Now I’m not going to lie, I’ve definitely threw mom brain as an excuse to blame my forgetfulness and I just know, you will too soon…that is, if you already haven’t 🤪!
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The 411 on Mom brain and how to help your memory. Baby Chick. (2021, May 5). Retrieved September 11, 2021, from https://www.baby-chick.com/is-mommy-brain-real/.
Hawkins-Gaar, K. (2021, July 14). The Nyt Parenting Newsletter. The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/14/parenting/mom-brain-forgetfulness-science.html.
PsyD, W. by: E. G., & MD, R. by: M. A. (n.d.). Mommy brain: Signs, causes, & 10 ways to cope. Choosing Therapy. Retrieved September 11, 2021, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/mommy-brain/.