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What is Pregnancy Brain?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Pregnancy brain is a condition that affects expectant mothers, usually during the first and third trimesters. Sometimes known as placenta brain or baby brain drain, the condition is usually characterized by short-term memory loss or forgetfulness. Some medical experts say that pregnancy brain is a myth, but evidence shows that many women have experienced this condition.

Studies linking memory and pregnancy are limited, and their results have been irregular. However, pregnant women have claimed to experience frustration while trying to remember the most simple everyday tasks. Some working women who are pregnant have become emotionally distressed because the condition has rendered them unable to work effectively.

It's understandable that women's emotional levels vary greatly during pregnancy. Hormonal surges, combined with the fact that pregnant women must eat for two and may be getting less sleep, are contributory. A great deal of the mother's time is taken up with thoughts of the baby, so a little forgetfulness is expected.

Increased levels of the hormone progesterone are thought to be a culprit in pregnancy brain. Progesterone can often cause headaches, mood swings and fatigue. The increase of progesterone is often greatest in the first trimester and may be the reason for increased forgetfulness.

The effects of pregnancy brain vary greatly among women. They can be as simple as forgetting phone numbers that one has dialed for years or placing toilet paper in the fridge. One mother-to-be drove home only to find she had arrived at a previous home she had not lived in for six years.

Doctors have devised a few key steps that may help pregnant women decrease the risk of pregnancy brain. Sleep is a key factor in keeping the mind mentally healthy. A pregnant woman should try to get the same amount of sleep as she did before the pregnancy. Eating a well-balanced diet is essential to keep both mother and baby healthy. Doctors recommend that pregnant women take prenatal vitamins in order to ensure the intake of vital vitamins and minerals.

Exercise is also essential to keep the circulation flowing, decrease tiredness and make the mother feel mentally healthier. Another tip is to drink plenty of fluids. When pregnant women become dehydrated, their electrolytes may be disrupted, causing decreased memory and confusion.

The good news for pregnant women is that pregnancy brain is only temporary. It should start to decrease once the baby is born, although some mothers claim that pregnancy brain can last for some time after the birth. However, with most of the mother's time spent taking care of a newborn baby, this is only to be expected.

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Discussion Comments

By anon935345 — On Feb 25, 2014

It all seems like anything but pregnancy related, like it's something far more serious!

By anon331604 — On Apr 23, 2013

I delivered a baby girl five months ago and have found out that baby brain drain is really true.

I am a real estate loan processor, and I go to DENR to request a subplan yet I forgot the details of the lot I am requesting. I am very frustrated because I traveled for a half hour just to be there and go back to the office with nothing.

By anon308884 — On Dec 13, 2012

I feel so much better after reading these posts. I thought I was cracking up.

I'm nine weeks pregnant and thought I had left my mobile at work. My wife was just about to drive me back to work to get it after I was winding myself up for half an hour thinking I had left it at work, only for her to find in on the kitchen table.

Also, I can be halfway through a conversation and forget what I was going to say. Does it get better or worse?

By anon285967 — On Aug 18, 2012

I'm about eight weeks pregnant and I have almost forgotten to pick my husband up from work, and I am totally dyslexic. My words get mixed up when I'm typing. I've forgotten where the remote is, where my purse and my car keys are. I can't even remember what day it is. I hope it gets better and soon!

By anon262737 — On Apr 20, 2012

I'm 19 weeks pregnant. Today I got ready to go shopping only to find my car missing from the garage. I called my husband at work thinking he had cheekily taken mine instead of his own without telling me. It turned out he didn't know what I was on about, and thought perhaps I had gone down to the wrong basement floor, hence looked in the wrong space.

When this turned out not to be the case, I started to panic- my car must have been stolen. I was just about to call the police when my husband mentioned he had seen a car the same as mine at the end of our road on his way out and could I have left it there? My memory slowly returned. I had stopped at the corner shop the previous evening on my way home and as I usually walk to the shop, had totally forgotten I was in the car so walked home with my shopping! I have always been a little absent minded- but that is pretty scary.

By anon255240 — On Mar 16, 2012

My son is four months old and I feel Like I still have "baby brain." I been forgetting simple things at work -- things I've known for the past seven years but when I look at things, my brain seems to be fuzzy and is not connecting. People tell me it's lack of sleep, that I'm doing too much.

I don't want to use "baby brain" as an excuse but it is causing me emotional distress because I am unable to work as effectively as I used to. I hope it goes away soon so I can get back on track.

By anon234620 — On Dec 13, 2011

Gosh though. What do you do when your girlfriend forgets how close you were before and during the pregnancy? It's like now that she's had the baby she had a lobotomy as well. I wish it didn't hurt so much. How do you not take that personally?

I understand pregnancy brain exists, but to forget how much you love someone? She's changed entirely and I do not know what to do or how to handle it.

By anon189867 — On Jun 24, 2011

Earlier this week I forgot the tickets to a concert I was going to and left my phone in my car. I wish these were signs!

By anon164361 — On Mar 31, 2011

I agree. Just this week I left my steel bottle at gym. Today I left my phone there. Thankfully, they found it. At work I forgot to change mileage on vehicle for sale. Somebody bought it online but we called them at told them the car has 500 miles more than listed. They backed out of the deal because of miles. My husband was furious. I am also a nurse and I hope I will not make a mistake at the hospital. 35 more weeks to go.

By anon153612 — On Feb 17, 2011

Oh my gosh i am so happy to read these comments, i thought it was just me. I am not really bright at the best of times, but now am definitely worse! I have always been on time for my work (english teacher) but yesterday for some reason i thought my classes started later than usual (why i thought this, dunno) and i turned up at the end of the lesson and the students were just as confused as i was, i had no real good excuse for my late arrival, felt like banging my head on the desk.

Also with my first, i would place my bag on the car then drive off, only to see in my rear view mirror my bag flying and rolling behind the car. Also one time i left my house keys and mobile phone yet again on the car, and the car behind us was beeping his horn giving us a signal, so we stopped and i got out only to see my keys and phone were wrapped around the radio thing that's on your car. See i can't even recall what that's called! argh!

By anon143338 — On Jan 15, 2011

pregnancy brain is real! I've had it during both my pregnancies. i totally forgot my whole birth date! like I had no idea when i was born. It's pretty sad when you have to look at your ID to tell somebody your birthdate! -- kdph

By anon141968 — On Jan 11, 2011

I am so glad others have this issue too! I thought I might have a brain tumor or something. My third son is almost six months old and I am still doing crazy stuff. I forget everything.

Twice in the last week I was stopped at a red light but started to go as if it was stop sign. Hope it goes away soon!

By anon125221 — On Nov 08, 2010

Baby brain is a drag. I'm 25 weeks pregnant and glad to say I don't experience the faded brain every day, but on the days I do--it's bad. I can't always complete thoughts or sentences and find myself forgetting that I'm making baked chicken instead of a salad.

Today, even typing this message makes me feel dyslexic, which would be fine if I were, but I'm just pregnant. Otherwise, my second trimester has been great.

By anon110877 — On Sep 13, 2010

i have a 12 year old. after giving birth to her my forgetfulness slowly went away. Now, i have a two year old and for some reason the pregnancy brain still didn't fully go away. i am still putting cereal in the fridge and milk in the cupboard and just the other day found my car keys in the freezer. i often tell myself it's just because I'm doing too many things at one time. hope i get back to my old self soon.

By anon103490 — On Aug 12, 2010

I know that baby brain starts in first trimester, but how early in first trimester? I haven't actually taken a test yet to see if I am pregnant, but if I am it is about six weeks. I lose track of conversations, and am easily distracted. I am a photographer and was working at a local police training activity and forgot to push the button on my camera to take the pictures.

And I am also a college student, and went to the wrong class on the wrong day. Showing up at my Monday/Wednesday class Tuesday morning.

Are these early signs of baby brain?

By anon101883 — On Aug 05, 2010

I experienced baby brain during both of my pregnancies. After my first son was born I believe I got my brain back sooner than later -- can't remember.

However, what concerns me now is that my second born son is now nine months old and my brain is nowhere to be found. This time it's not just silly dizziness. I am seriously concerned about my brain's inability to transfer short-term to long-term. I'm still nursing, does that have an effect? -ditsy mom

By anon90637 — On Jun 17, 2010

I think I will agree with these comments. I joined a new workplace about 6.5 months ago and just got pregnant at the time.

The first trimester was very tiring and I was being very forgetful. I'd forget what someone just told me within a few minutes at work. It was pretty embarrassing and frustrating. It got pretty frustrating as I used to be better at that. I used to be much more efficient at problem solving.

Even now, in my third trimester, it feels like I could be doing much better, but what with all the tiredness and sleepless nights? I started to wonder why my thinking seemed much slower than earlier and if I seemed relatively incompetent until my husband mentioned that it could be due to the pregnancy. Seems like other mothers-to-be have experienced similar things. It makes me feel better.

By anon89875 — On Jun 13, 2010

I went to hand in an essay by post yesterday but got the due date wrong. I went to the post office without the address I needed to post to, so had to come home for it, then left my phone at the post office (and I thought) my bag.

Went into a panic about my bag but found it in the kitchen. I then couldn't find the address of the property I was supposed to be viewing that morning. This is a typical day for me now - I'm just not with it at all.

Last week I left the window open on the car, as well as the gate and door of my boss's house and completely missed a house viewing. I feel that people probably think I'm just making up excuses by saying this has come on through pregnancy, but it really has!

Sometimes, my Italian husband asks me the English word for something and I just go blank and can't remember, and while calling a taxi the other day, I couldn’t remember my own address. It’s embarrassing, frustrating and stressful. I worry that I will have a lapse while driving.

By anon87339 — On May 29, 2010

i am five months pregnant and i find that i cannot remember birthdays or cannot think of a certain word. Needless to say, my extensive vocabulary is lacking and it's very frustrating.

By anon79800 — On Apr 24, 2010

I agree with the others: if it was a myth why would so many pregnant women forget the slightest things. I for some reason put dental floss in my safe! Then put my mobile phone in the wardrobe. Oh and I've now lost the tv remote which I still can't remember where the heck i've put it! It's not very fun. I'm only ten weeks pregnant. I hope it doesn't get any worse!

By anon73896 — On Mar 29, 2010

I am so glad I read this article and all of your comments, because I didn't know what was happening to me. I thought I was getting old and that is why I am so forgetful, unable to focus, inefficient and slow.

I got a new job and right after that got pregnant. I am so frustrated at myself at work, because it does not feel like me. I always was a good employee, detail oriented, and always got compliments on my work, and here, I am new and all people see is how bad I am. But I really hope it is temporary, can't wait for it to stop. I want my old self back!

By anon61623 — On Jan 21, 2010

This is so true. I am five months pregnant and I have become so clumsy. Also I normally have a very sharp memory, now it's terrible! It's embarrassing sometimes. A few days ago, I packed lunch for my boyfriend but forgot to give it to him. Also I used to play the piano quite well but now, it's as if my hands have a delay in following my brain! I really hope this goes away when I give birth!

By anon59841 — On Jan 10, 2010

I developed this with my first child and he is now 2 1/2 and I don't think that mine ever went away completely. I am now pregnant with baby #2 and am even more forgetful. I hope it doesn't continue to get worse! Good grief! no.

By anon58281 — On Dec 31, 2009

I can't believe how frustrating the "pregnancy brain" can be! I feel incompetent at work. Literally seconds after I am told something, I completely forget what the person just said. Hopefully this will go away sooner than later!!

By anon57254 — On Dec 21, 2009

i am 10 weeks pregnant and the other day i was driving and i got stopped at a red light. i asked my passenger if i was supposed to be stopped because it didn't feel right. man, it was horrible and could have been very dangerous for us.

My friend recently had a baby and she dealt with this and I just thought she was just being stupid but now I'm doing it -- it's so not fun.

By anon56898 — On Dec 18, 2009

I have also suffered from pregnancy brain. My baby is nine weeks old and I am still suffering from it. The other day I made the dog's dinner and put it on the dining table instead of on the floor for the dog to eat, and also thinking it was a Tuesday but it was actually Wednesday.

I've been forgetting I had made arrangements to see people as well. I am quite worried about it as I was never like this before, and hope I return back to normal soon!

By anon54892 — On Dec 03, 2009

i went a whole day thinking it was a tuesday but really it was a thursday and when i tried to tell myself that it was tuesday i was all confused. very weird.

By anon54648 — On Dec 01, 2009

i have to attest to it as well. i went through it bad: simple numbers, or words or songs, my purse, phone -- ugh! It was frustrating.

My daughter is 10 months old and sometimes i still struggle, but i heard it takes up to a year to regain regular hormonal balance, so here we go.

By anon34786 — On Jun 28, 2009

It is definitely true. I had never even heard of it and started forgetting everything when I got pregnant. Simple words, everyday tasks, you name it. I called my sister saying that somethings wrong with me and I think I should go to the doctor for brain damage. I was seriously scared. She laughed and said I have "pregnancy brain." She went through it as well with her child. If it is a myth, why would I experience something I knew nothing about? It's definitely true and not very fun!

By wishsmart — On Nov 06, 2008

The article about pregnancy brain is very true. As a pregnant woman I have forgotten my best friends number and have not been able to remember it in months. I tend to have a loss of words, forgetful of my agenda for the day and other memory related problems.

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