There are certain changes you can expect when you’re expecting—a round belly, sore and swollen feet, and if you’re lucky, that pregnancy glow (you can thank the surge of estrogen for this one). But one other side effect that is not talked about as often is the dreaded pregnancy brain. It’s a real thing and about 80 percent of mothers experience it—even Kylie Jenner, who recently joked about her struggle to “get it together” on Instagram.
What is it?
‘Pregnancy brain’ refers to the lack of attention and memory experienced by many women who are expecting. A recent review of 20 studies assessing more than 700 pregnant and 500 nonpregnant women found that cognitive function, memory, and executive functioning were significantly poorer in pregnant women. But there’s good news: the evidence also found that these changes were more noticeable to close friends and family and did not significantly impact job performance.
What Causes It?
Although the science isn’t 100% clear, research suggests that shifting hormone levels may be the culprit to momnesia. During pregnancy, there is 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen being produced by the body, which may affect spatial memory and the neurons in your brain that send and receive signals.
What to Do About It
When your pregnancy brain is in fullforce, try utilizing workarounds like writing things down, keeping a calendar, and prioritizing your sleep. Although pregnancy brain can last throughout your entire pregnancy and even the postpartum period, many women find they’re the foggiest during the third trimester. But it’s important to keep in mind that this is a natural and very common side effect of expecting, so the most important thing is to give yourself a break! If you’re pregnant and lost the keys that happen to be in your hand or can’t recall if you brushed your teeth this morning, just remember #itsnotyouitsyourhormones.