Research Proves “Mom Brain” Is Real

Have you ever walked into a store and forgot what you were there for, or went to your baby’s pediatrician appointment on the wrong day?

You hear mothers pull the “mom brain” card when they are forgetful, absent-minded, or overly emotional.

While every incident can’t own this claim, it turns out that changes in the brain after having a baby do give legitimacy to the transformation moms experience.

Dr. Vanessa LoBue, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today writes:

“I’m generally pretty on top of things, I never miss a deadline, am organized, and even tempered. That is, I was until my son was born 3 years ago.”

Recent research in the field of neuroscience has found specific ways a mother’s malleable brain restructures to improve her duties and devotion as a mom.

Psychology Today reported:

Researchers from Autonomous University of Barcelona scanned the brains of a group of women before and after they gave birth, and found changes in the structure of their brains that were long lasting, remaining for at least 2 years. Importantly, these changes were particular to the parts of the brain that were most active when the women were looking at pictures of their babies. Although further research is necessary to nail down exactly what these changes mean and how they affect mothers’ behavior, the researchers think these changes might help women understand the needs and emotions of their babies, helping them to better prepare for motherhood”

So, when you get those overwhelming feelings while staring at those big newborn eyes and kissable cheeks, your brain actually has changed to make you never want to shift your gaze.

This could be another reason why things seem twice as hard to remember or focus on when they go beyond the scope of one’s motherly role; after all, you do have a new little life to care for.

When you are blessed with the responsibility of motherhood, there are so many things to stay on top of to provide optimum care, and having distractions make things more difficult.

It is amazing when mothers are able to take on other roles when having a baby, such as work and volunteering.

In another study, it was discovered that not just mothers are affected by shifts in brain activity when parenting begins.

Psychology Today reported:

“..researchers scanned the brains of first-time mothers and fathers while these new parents watched a video of themselves interacting with their babies. The researchers found increased activity in the amygdala—the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional processing—in both mothers and fathers who were the primary caregivers for their babies.”

This study suggests there is a neurological connection to our young that goes beyond the birthing and nursing experience.

It was, also, shown the more time fathers spent with their children, the more emotionally involved they were.

Parents who adopt, foster, or are in a caregiver position have reported that they can get attached to a child as if it was their own, despite not being biologically bonded.

One foster mother speaks on her quick attachment to a baby named Nina that ended up in her care while the biological mother, Rayna, rehabilitated from a mental illness.

The Huffington Post reported:

“I was rooting for Rayna, yet I was growing so attached to Nina -– little Nina, the first child we got to hold and love, the child who came to us during peak bonding months in her life and who bonded so closely with us. 

..we showered love on her, we loved her like a daughter, we couldn’t have loved her more.”

Putting oneself in a caregiver position of any sort would seem to increase the amygdala activity, and give even a foster mother a case of mommy brain to make her a more responsive parent.

This makes you wonder how mentally unstable someone must be to ignore their instinctual responses and mistreat a child.

The forgetfulness in motherhood can also be contributed to a hormone that is released after conception through nursing.

Psychology Today reported:

Researchers speculate that oxytocin—a hormone present in mothers during labor, pregnancy, and nursing—might play a role in keeping women from developing bad memories about the experience.”

It is good to remember the journey to motherhood, without recalling the nausea, pain, and discomfort along the way.

This is God’s way of ensuring that we continue to have children, and perpetuate the human species, despite some of the trials and tribulations.

While some of “mom brain” is being overwhelmingly busy, with too little sleep, neuroscience shows us that it’s also our brains being modified to the demands of motherhood.

There are a lot of negative connotations with “mom brain”, but we can now appreciate it for all it does to make us the best parents we can be.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have a humorous “mom brain” moment, or if you think that it has improved your role as a mother.

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