I recently attended a Baby Brain training with one of the leaders in the postpartum depletion field - Dr. Serrallach.
Here are some take home messages for you around brain changes in pregnancy and postpartum to understand what’s going on and what’s normal/not normal.
1. Traditional cultures don’t talk about “baby brain”. This is a phenomenon that we see exclusively in Western cultures. Interesting right? I know SO MANY mothers that struggle with debilitating brain fog, forgetfulness, confusion and trouble concentrating in the months or years after birth. So what’s going on?
2. There are brain changes that happen during pregnancy and postpartum - your brain is literally being remodeled and rewired to make you into an exceptional caregiver for your baby. HOWEVER - the impact of these changes is MILD and should only last for a couple months after birth. These brain changes should NOT significantly affect your daily life or ability to function.
3. What we are seeing when a mother is experiencing a lot of brain fog, confusion, overwhelm and forgetfulness - is NOT biologically normal - it’s the result of an overactive stress response to an overwhelming environment. It’s not you. It’s your environment.
“Mom’s brain” isn’t the issue - it’s the environment many moms find themselves in.
4. The problem comes when a mom’s body stays in a state of stress or has the “accelerator pedal” ON all the time.
Our stress response systems are the “accelerator” and “brake” pedals that run our body. We need these systems to function and stay alive. When we’re constantly stressed:
A. Inflammation happens in our body (hello brain fog and medical issues)
B. Our hormones go out of whack (sleep, brain function, how your body functions)
C. Our metabolism is thrown off (energy levels)
D. Your general sense of wellbeing is affected (mood, how we feel, etc...)
5. To calm our stress response and nervous system you need to address the root issues - internal and external sources of stress.
A. Internal environment - replenishing nutrient levels and stores, supporting organ function, optimizing hormone balance
B. External environment - toxin exposure, relationships with others, support
6. One of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system in the moment is to do breathing exercises. Yes really - but you need to do them regularly for them to be effective.
Try this: 4 in/7 out. Breath in slowly for a count of 4, breath out slowly for a count of 7. Repeat a few times. Do this several times a day.
I’ll leave you with a powerful quote:
“‘Mom brain’ isn’t some irreparable, irreversible symptom of motherhood. It’s a symptom of a society that doesn’t support mothers even as they contribute trillions of dollars worth of unpaid labour”.
- Julie Borden from the article ‘Mom Brain’ Isn’t a Joke in The Atlantic May 2022.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Amy Your Dietitian Doula
P.S. - Interested in learning how I work with mothers experiencing brain fog, confusion, chronic overwhelm and exhaustion?
Watch my masterclass here: Balance Your Body, Overcome Your Overwhelm.
Book a call with me so we can discuss what’s going on with you and how I can help.