Scientific Did You Know – 5

Did you know…


… woman actually become smarter during pregnancy?







Popular theories that say  ‘baby brain’ or ‘pregnancy brain’ makes women more forgetful and less focused might just be wrong. In 1997, research was performed into the pregnant brain because many pregnant women claim to have difficulty remembering phone numbers or stringing together words into long sentences. The hypothesis then said that a woman’s brain shrinks during pregnancy and it takes about 6 months afterwards to regain it’s normal volume. The results were based on MRI images of 10 healthy woman at different times during and after pregnancy. This would explain the decrease of mental efficiency in pregnant women.

New Canadian and American studies however, have shown this to be bogus. A group of women (both pregnant and non pregnant) were given a series of tests and it turned out that pregnant women did at least as well, if not better than non-pregnant women. De moms-to-be just thought they did worse afterwards. So typical!

The cause of this could be the increase in hormones, stimulating the brain to do better. The studie also points out this is a relatively permanent effect that could be seen up to 10 years after delivery. The reason is probably that the female brain is being prepared for the complicated tasks of motherhood. (Future) mothers are more alert, have a greater ability to learn, have a better memory and can do more things simultaneously. The study even indicates that, how tougher the tasks the mom takes on, the more her brain operates at a higher level. Important areas of the brain also change size (based on research in rats, mice and humans). Sharper function of the senses was also mentioned. This could explain why mothers can identify their newborns based on sounds and smell.





Further research is obviously necessary to confirm these theories and to find a proper physiological explanation. But if this turns out the be true, the ‘baby brain’ I’ve been experiencing these last few weeks is a hoax. I’ve had some serious problems staying coherent though, you can ask my students!




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Let’s hope Husband doesn’t read this, or I can’t use my pregnancy brain as an excuse anymore when I’ve botched something  😉

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