Daily Archives: Wednesday 6 February 2008

We already knew ‘baby brain’ is real

From the files of obvious research comes the news that women really do experience ‘baby brain’. Seems we need to have official scientific research to confirm something that women have known for a long, long time – that during pregnancy and after pregnancy, our thinking and memory may not be quite as sharp as usual. It seems that our “executive cognitive control” diminishes, and we find it harder to process and remember new information. The researchers suggest that the likely cause is sleep deprivation.

What gets me is how women’s experience is only validated when there’s a scientific study to confirm it. Couldn’t they just believe us?

I can think of another reason why women might experience “baby brain”. It’s not just that you are sleep deprived. You are engaged in the tremendous process of producing and nurturing a new human being. Your focus goes inward during pregnancy, and then shifts entirely to the new little being. If you are a first time mum, you are engaged in a huge learning process, working out how to care for a baby, and reorganising your entire life around that baby. A similar learning process goes on with second and third babies. You are already engaged in an enormous task of understanding and processing and remembering novel information.

The researchers are telling us that women’s “executive cognitive control” is impaired pre and post pregnancy. May I suggest that it is not “impaired” at all. It is just directed elsewhere.