Pregnancy Leads to Long-Lasting Changes in the Mother’s Brain
We go from “normal” to “Mommy Brain” in 9 months, but it seems to only be a joke that most women blame for leaving their keys in the freezer. We are not crazy! Mothers across the worlds can rejoice because science has now proven that we are not making it all up. In 2002, researchers revealed that the memory issues mothers claim to have while pregnant or in early motherhood are, in fact, a reality. There have been multiple studies and research projects that show just how pregnancy and birth alter the brain, but few have involved humans instead of animals. Nature Neuroscience recently published a 2016 research study that involved 25 first-time mothers, comparing brain scans to those of 19 first-time fathers, 17 men without children, and 20 women who had never given birth. What do you think was found? That’s right, reduced grey matter. What, you didn’t guess that? Neuroscientist Elseline Hoekzema and colleagues found that pregnancy actually reshapes the brain of mothers. This ‘reshaping’ effects the brain for at least two years postpartum. Fellow mothers, that means that when our babies hit toddlerhood, we (technically) are still out of our right minds. That could be a deadly combination – ha. No wonder we need wine. The part of the brain (medial frontal and posterior cortex) that we utilize to think, retain thoughts, feel, and exhibit intentions to others or ourselves showed significant grey matter reduction. You would think this would make us less intelligent, but alas, it seems that motherhood makes us that much more in tune to life around us. Yes, we may forget small things on a regular basis throughout pregnancy and early-motherhood, but it seems that this shift matures our brains. The study revealed that mothers with the highest loss (or shrinkage) of grey matter have the highest quality of mother-to-infant attachment after birth. Basically, this explains why my natural Type-A crazy obsessive personality has become a bit more lax over the past 8 years – as I have been pregnant 5 times in those eight years! At least I have solid proof to show my husband… ha. My brain has become more mature and aware of the needs of my children, pushing aside the things I once thought were so important. Want to read more about the study? Click Here. What the science is saying is that our brains adapt to having a baby. It is a rewiring of sorts. The research was taken over a five-year period and the results call for further studies to be done. There is so much to learn in this area.