Forgot where you placed your keys…again?
The phenomena of mums-to-be being absent-minded or forgetful is pretty much a fact of life. “Some call it mum-nesia, and there is no one known cause,” says SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, a gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital.
Claudine Ng, 32, a personal insurance agent and mum to Rochelle, 1, recalls “mind blank moments” when she was expecting. “I’d be doing a presentation and suddenly find myself at a loss for words. It was embarrassing!” she chuckles.
Another mum, Joyce Tan, 33, currently 16 weeks pregnant with her third child, struggles to keep track of everything she needs to do. “From picking the older kids from school, to running errands and getting groceries, I feel like my mind is in a fog. It feels like there are so many things to do, but I can’t remember exactly what they are.”
“It feels like there are so many things to do, but I can’t remember exactly what they are.”
The following factors might be zapping your memory:
- Hormonal changes
“Some experts associate it with hormonal changes which upset the usual, normal rhythm of life,” says Dr Chong. A University of Bradford study found that spatial recognition memory ability was reduced during the later stages of pregnancy. This spatial memory is linked to the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which can be affected by changes in hormones
Another likely possibility is the lack of sleep. Middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, leg cramps and backaches can interrupt your slumber. As new information is cemented in your brain while you sleep, your memory might be affected when you don’t get enough shut-eye.
There are many reasons why your stress levels may rise with a pregnancy. Anything from financial worries, to the challenges of raising a child, may cause cortisol ― the stress hormone ― to flood your brain’s memory centre during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, a lot of your iron stores are channelled to growing your baby. In addition, your blood volume increases, which also dilutes the concentration of this vital mineral in your blood. This lack of iron (as many as 25 per cent of expectant mums are iron-deficient) can affect your memory.
What can you do if you are constantly forgetful? Dr Chong has tips...
Your mummy brain might persist even after baby’s born and even worsen, given the lack of sleep and stress of caring for a newborn. But most mothers have no problems with mummy brain ― “it’s not like dementia, it’s usually mild and does not affect your lifestyle,” Dr Chong notes. It may also take a while to go away, since the “same problem of tiredness still exists after baby is born, with breastfeeding and looking after the baby,” he explains.
However, you can take steps to cope with mummy brain.
1. Rest well Since fatigue can be a main cause for mummy brain, try and get more sleep. Instead of checking your e-mail or using the iPad before bed, read a relaxing book or listen to some soothing music.
2. Take notes If you can’t get a grip on your schedule, or even remember the names of people you meet, it helps to write it down.
Instead of checking your e-mail or using the iPad before bed, read a relaxing book or listen to some soothing music.
3. Exercise “For better circulation and health and well-being,” notes Dr Chong. A University of California study found that memory is sharpest after a workout for those who exercise regularly.
4. Caffeine Your morning cup of coffee may help ― caffeine stimulates the brain, says Dr Chong. But watch your intake ― the recommended limit is 200mg a day ― the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.
5. Diet Fish oil or DHA, which you often take to boost your baby’s brain development, can also help with your brain. Dr Chong recommends salmon and sardines, both of which are high in fish oil. “You can also take DHA tablets and vitamin B, which helps with nerves and stimulation.”
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