Brain Shrinkage During Pregnancy
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/25/2006 | Women
A 1997 British study conducted by researchers at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School found that a woman's brain shrinks during pregnancy.
The changes recorded by the scientists reflected differences in the volume of women's brain cells, rather than in the number of cells present, perhaps explaining why some woman experience bouts of forgetfulness and loss of concentration while pregnant. There are many theories about the reasons for this phenomenon, but it appears that the true explanation has been overlooked...
As any pregnant woman will tell you, brain shrinkage is necessary to ensure that your sanity remains intact.
Reduced brainpower first becomes a blessing when your doctor tells you that pregnancy is not an illness and that there is absolutely no reason why it should prevent you from living your life as usual. Luckily, with your shorter concentration span, you fail to remember that morning sickness has been preventing you from eating breakfast, lunch and dinner for the last two months. Or, that overwhelming fatigue has you asleep at the wheel of your car on your way to and from the office. And of course there is always that need you have to visit the restroom every 15 minutes so you can't possibly get through your emails before lunch!
All these "blessings" are almost enough to drive a person to "drink", but alas, the fact is you cannot indulge during pregnancy so you must forget this thought for at least the next nine months!
A smaller brain really comes in handy when a pregnant woman converses with those around her - after all, how big does your brain need to be to answer the same endless stream of questions for nine months?
- Have you had any morning sickness? (Substitute a variety of ailments here.)
- Do you want a boy or a girl?
- Have you picked any names yet?
- Is it kicking yet?
- How much longer to go?
- Have you had any cravings?
...you get the idea!
Comments from older, more experienced mothers in your family circle must also be taken with a "pinch" less brain power. These are typical...
- "In our day we all just had to get on with it. None of this new medical stuff for us."
- "In our day there was none of this being told in advance if it's a boy or a girl. You just took what you were given."
- "In our day men weren't at the birth. What do you want him there for? It's very messy you know."...No, you did not know. Your newly shrunken brain has managed conveniently to block out all thought of the birth!
Shrinking brain cells also work well as a defense mechanism against strange people - you know the one's - those who are magnetically drawn to your swollen tummy because apparently, it has now become public property. Like a 'WET PAINT ' sign, everyone has just got to check it out for themselves.
The pregnant woman's shrinking brain is also a great defense against the "retailers" clever sales tactics. Fortunately with only half of a brain functioning you fail to understand the necessity of purchasing all the merchandise which you are told will be essential to your baby's well being. A baby, it seems, cannot survive without a cradle, a capsule and a cot. The cot is not complete without the lambs' wool under blanket, Disney bed linen, a mosquito net, and hanging mobiles painted with faces in strong primary colors, a snuggler, at least 20 soft toys and a Baby Mozart CD.
And of course you must have a baby monitor to allow you to stay primed for action when baby is not sleeping, in which case baby can be transferred to a stroller, a jogging stroller, a bassinet, a bouncer, or perhaps a portable cot, change table or 'safety' car seat!!
If you do not feel you've covered all your baby's bases, do not worry. Just turn on the television and for sure an advertisement will appear for something that you haven't bought yet, but desperately need.
Scientists tell us that fortunately, the brain does return to its normal size at around six months after your baby's birth. You could make a note of this date in your diary but no one thought to buy you one this year. Only people with real jobs need diaries.
Researchers are not certain why the brain fires on all cylinders again at this specific point in time, but any new mum could provide the answer to that question: You need all your wits about you by then to wangle a few precious hours to yourself.