Side Effects of Pregnancy On You

Forgetfulness During Pregnancy

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'Baby brain': love it or hate it, it is a term you are bound to come across time and time again during your pregnancy. Sometimes it can be a relief to have something to turn to as an excuse for being forgetful, but at other times, particularly when the term is used by others to explain your behaviour, it can feel a little condescending.

Is forgetfulness during pregnancy a proven condition?

Well, while there have been a number of studies into this, they have generally been inconclusive as we are still not able to say whether or not there is a physiological change during pregnancy that affects the ability of your brain to function as normal.

Anecdotal evidence points to the contrary however. Nearly all women feel that their cognitive ability is reduced during some, if not all stages of their pregnancy. Having the perception that you are performing less to less than your usual ability in day to day tasks, or at work, can be frustrating, if not worrying. However, there is no reason to worry. While there might not be any solid evidence that your hormones are affecting your brain power, there are plenty of other factors that are likely to influence your ability to think clearly or to remember things.

Firstly, and most obviously, being pregnant means that you now have a whole host of things on your mind which you haven't had to think about before. Planning when to tell people your good news, how to decorate the nursery or worrying about how you are going to cope as a mother are all reasonable and common justifications for being a little distracted. You might find that you spend all week feeling anxious about something to do with your pregnancy, only to find that you completely forget to attend the appointment you made to discuss it with your doctor!

Forgetfulness does seem to be reported more during the first and third trimesters, and perhaps this isn't surprising. During your first trimester you are likely to be a little overwhelmed by the idea that you are soon to become a parent and by all the sudden changes that your body is going through. In the third trimester you are often more emotional again as you find yourself less comfortable and perhaps anxious about the delivery of the baby. You are also more likely to be experiencing difficulty sleeping towards the end of the pregnancy which may make you feel lethargic or forgetful as sleep deprivation has been proven to affect cognitive ability.

There is a theory that evolution has a part to play in making you a little absent-minded during pregnancy. It has been suggested that your brain deliberately clouds out non-baby related subjects in order to ensure that you are giving your full attention to the important new addition to the family.

What can I do about forgetfulness during pregnancy?

Firstly, accept that you are not superwoman. Continuing to carry out 'life as normal' by functioning well at work, remembering appointments and not repeating the same story over and over again is a lot to ask when you are also busy growing and carrying a new baby inside you. So give yourself a break and do not set yourself unrealistic targets, and try to avoid tiredness. If not sleeping is your problem then do as much as you can to increase your chances of a good night's rest. Experiment with different sleeping positions using cushions as support, keep your evenings as free as possible so that you can get to bed early and avoid drinking too much fluid late in the day if you are spending half the night running to and from the bathroom.

One bout of absentmindedness can have a domino effect, leaving you fretful that you will forget something else and making you more likely to make more mistakes or miss more appointments. Try to keep relaxed, make sure that you write all plans down in your diary as soon as you make them and keep a to-do list at all times. Not only will this help you to feel more organised, but in turn it might help you to get better sleep at night if you feel a bit more relaxed about things.

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