Some call it “pregnancy brain” or “mommy brain” or “momnesia“, but of all the changes that happen during pregnancy—spreading feet, dwindling bladder and an explosion of emotions—this might as well be the scariest part!
A 1996 report in New Scientist magazine found that women’s brains shrunk during the last trimester of pregnancy, and that such pregnancy problems like poor concentration and memory loss could be attributed to this change.
A similar study in the January 2002 American Journal of Neuroradiology found that women’s brain volume decreased by about 4 percent.
Scientists are unsure of exactly why the size of the brain changes, but in the 2006 book called The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine writes,
“It’s not that a woman is losing brain cells … the mother’s brain shrinks because of changes in cellular metabolism required for restructuring brain circuits…”
Even as some areas of the brain shrink, other areas, including the fore-brain, which is responsible for problem solving and higher reasoning, expand and develop.
The fore-brain develops new communication conductors that enable mothers to protect their babies.
The 2002 study posted on NCBI concluded the brain decreases in size during pregnancy and that it might take up 6 months after delivery for the brain to return back to its normal size.
The good news is that though the brain might lose some of its volume during pregnancy, this change is reversed after delivery and the advancement of the fore-brain which the brain retains could also mean that new mothers become more spirited, adaptive and intellectual.