Momnesia: What am I forgetting?

Those lapses in memory are the norm for motherhood. Here are some handy tips and tricks to help you remember things.
Feeling forgetful these days? Chalk it up to momnesia. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Do you feel like you’re always forgetting things?

You put your keys down and walk into the next room, but then you wonder where you put your keys.

You have questions at your childbirth class or at your provider’s office, but then you forget what they are.

You walk into a room, but forget why you even went in there.

One name for this is pregnancy brain, or momnesia.

Wait a minute. What were we talking about?

Oh yes, pregnancy brain.

What is momnesia? Scientists describe it as the frustrating memory lapses that often strike during pregnancy. It’s a sign the brain is forming new neuronal connections in preparation for child rearing.

An analysis of more than two dozen studies over nearly 20 years found that pregnant women are significantly impaired on some (but not all) measures of memory, specifically the ones that place relatively high demands on “executive cognitive control,” according to an article in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

In the 2010 issue of Scientific America, University of Richmond neuroscience professor Craig Kinsley explained how this process happens: “Neurons in the part of the brain that largely regulate maternal behavior, called the medial preoptic area … grow impressively during late pregnancy, increasing the protein-synthesizing capabilities of the cell.”

So, momnesia is clearly a real thing, plaguing an estimated 80 percent of pregnant women.

Pregnancy brain is one of the things we talk about in our early pregnancy class.

For moms, this “forgetting” can be concerning. But they shouldn’t worry! It’s a normal thing that happens in pregnancy.

After the hormones have changed—once you’ve had the baby—your short-term memory will return. It can be a concerning thing at first, but it is a normal thing that happens to most pregnant women.

Here are some tips to help you combat it:

  • Know it’s normal. This in itself is important. I have had several new moms ask me if they are losing their mind. No, you’re not.
  • Laugh about it if you can. Remember that it won’t be this way forever. This cute video shows an exaggeration of pregnancy brain.
  • Write down the things you need to remember. I kept a list of questions for my provider in my purse. If I relied on my memory, I’d forget what I wanted to ask.
  • Use technology. Since a lot of people use their phone as a calendar, use an app and write down things you need to remember.
  • Simplify your life. This is a good thought during pregnancy anyway. This helps you have less to remember.
  • Exercise. This can help you feel better and have better night’s sleep. Fatigue plays into momnesia, so get as much rest as you can.
  • Eat foods with essential fatty acids like omega-3. Foods such as flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, cranberries and spinach are great sources.
  • Get Help. Let others around you know the important things you need to remember—and have them take responsibility. Realize that even after birth your new little bundle requires a lot of time and energy.

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