“Having a baby changes everything,” as the old saying goes. While some old sayings about pregnancy seem more like myths than facts, this one may be based on science. The minute you have your child in your arms, your life is changed forever.
Has your mind or the mind of someone you know changed after giving birth? Let us know what you think, then keep reading.
What Happens to Women’s Brains During Pregnancy?
While the physical changes of pregnancy are visibly noticeable, the changes in the brain are not as easy to spot. While it’s often been thought of like an old wive’s tale, it’s nice to know that science indicates women’s brains go through some crazy changes while pregnant. This may explain the overwhelming love women feel (suddenly your dog has been deposed and is kicked off the couch).
Changes In the Brain
While pregnancy affects the emotional state of dads-to-be, the changes in women’s brains seem to be more structural. According to recent research, women go through significant brain remodeling during pregnancy. These changes may last for at least two years after the birth or longer. The study also indicates that these changes have a role in helping women transition into motherhood.
The findings suggest that there is an adaptive process that helps women bond with their baby and better detect the needs of the child, especially the newborn’s emotional state. The research also provides clues about perinatal mental health, the neural basis of motherhood, and brain plasticity in general.
The Role of Hormones
Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone most likely trigger the changes in brain structure and function that occur during pregnancy. Hormones, in general, can have a strong influence on the brain cells, and aside from possibly puberty, no time in a woman’s life produces such wild hormone fluctuations than pregnancy.
The good news is that researchers did not observe significant changes in memory or other cognitive functions during pregnancy. So they believe the brain changes do not imply any cognitive deficits. So, while we know that “baby brain” is real, we also know that it doesn’t last forever.