5 Insane Ways Pregnancy Changes Your Brain
We’ve all heard the term ‘Baby Brain’ before. You know, that amnesia we experience during pregnancy and as a new mother! For a long time it felt like my head was stuffed full of cotton balls, I just could not think to save my life! But it might be to do with more than just sleep deprivation…
Your Brain Gets Flooded With Feel-Good Hormones
Oxytocin is a hormone that naturally gets released during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is often known as the ‘love hormone’, and research has shown that levels of oxytocin in the brain can predict maternal bonding.
Feldman and colleagues showed that levels of oxytocin, even as early as during the first trimester of pregnancy, were associated with more bonding behaviors after birth.
Your Brain Gets Smaller!
Researchers in the UK found that women’s brains actually get smaller by up to 6% during pregnancy. Luckily they return to normal size by around 6 months postpartum.
However, smaller brain size does not necessarily mean lower functioning. In fact, decreased brain matter may mean that your neural networks are being pruned to function more acutely. This type of ‘pruning’ also happens during adolescence!
You Get Better At Emotional Processing
Research by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that new mothers have more grey matter in areas of the brain associated with maternal motivation, reward and emotion processing, sensory integration, and reasoning and judgement.
The authors speculated that hormonal changes right after birth, including increases in estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin, may help make mothers’ brains susceptible to reshaping in response to the baby.
You Become An Amazing Multi-tasker
Research has shown that women are better than men at multi-tasking on some tasks. Apparently this gap widens even further during pregnancy. This is due to the increase of activity in the pre-frontal cortex, which is also responsible for our ability to multitask!
You Get Really Good At Recognizing Faces
Research has shown that women in late pregnancy have an enhanced ability to process faces. This could be an evolutionary adaption to spot and avoid threats during pregnancy!
Isn’t the brain amazing? Did you experience any changes during or after pregnancy? Let me know in the comments!
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