Today in Mom News: Does Motherhood Affect Memory?

We’re going to try something new here at Postcards–every day or so we’re going to throw in a piece of mom-related news just to keep things interesting and provoke discussion. Today, via Lisa Belkin’s Motherlode blog at the New York Times, does motherhood affect…wait what was I typing? Oh yes! Memory! This common malady is also known as “baby brain” or “mumnesia,” but a new study shows that moms are just as forgetful as non-moms. The only time cognitive function declines for women is in very late pregnancy. For the moms: Did you find that you were more forgetful while you were preggo? For the daughters: did your moms forget everything they didn’t write down? [New York Times]

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    • 1.  Tricia

      Not only did I have lapses in memory, I had this strange symptom where when I was reading, I would often replace a word in the sentence I was reading with a word from sentence one or two lines above the sentence I was reading. Make sense?

      The funniest thing about this pregnancy brain symptom is that the mixed up sentences always made sense. They were always out of context, but they always formed a cohesive thought. A cohesive, NAUGHTY thought. For real!

      This symptom started when I was pregnant with #1 and really never left until I stopped breastfeeding #2.

      February 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

    • 2.  Rachel

      I am almost 8 months pregnant and I can’t remember anything. I forget to return phone calls, forget to reply to emails, forget what things are called, where I was going, etc. It’s horrible!

      I make lists of things I’m supposed to do, then I forget about making the list.

      I hope this goes away when the baby gets here!

      February 17, 2010 at 9:19 am

      • 2.1  Tamara

        It does Rachel; approx. 10 months after your baby’s birth you’ll be back to normal. 3 children, 3 times total black-out:) Now, I remember anything and everything,……managing the agenda of five people and I don’t even need a calender to do so. Can you f***g believe it??!! It’s true; all will be good in time.
        Wishing you a lot of succes when giving birth and a wonderfull healthy baby!!! Greetz from a Dutch mom of three

        February 23, 2010 at 4:25 am

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    • 3.  Dee

      I had the worst time remembering certain words. Like “referral” which I needed for a doctor. Simply would not come to me.

      February 17, 2010 at 9:48 am

    • 4.  Juno

      Keep in mind that insufficient sleep affects your memory. So regardless of–or in addition to–whatever’s going on with your hormones, etc., when your pregnancy/baby interferes with your sleep, you’re going to have trouble remembering stuff.

      And Dee: my sister had the exact same problem during her pregnancy. She’d go to say some simple, everyday word and would come up completely blank.

      February 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    • 5.  Christine

      I don’t think it’s about being a mom at any stage of life – it’s about being a busy, multi-tasking woman. We always have so much on the go and we think about everything at once. Men compartmentalize and block everything else out as they perform one task at a time. We retain the things that are most significant to us – our loved ones’ birthdates, measurements, likes and dislikes – and forget important but relatively insignificant things – where did I put the car keys, did I remember to call the vet about getting the dog neutered, where did I put my to do list?

      We are amazing, ladies. We just need to give ourselves a break and quit seeing our strengths (multi-tasking) as flaws (I can’t remember a thing!).

      February 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    • 6.  Kelly

      Tricia – I do the same thing!!

      My mom kept sticky notes all over the OUTSIDE of her purse for years. Now her list lives on the inside, thank god.

      February 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    • 7.  amylgh

      My Mom remembers NOTHING of my childhood. Lucky her; she married an abusive jerk and although they have now been separated for over 5 years now, they are both too greedy to give up half their assets. They are both ridiculous in my opinion.

      February 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    • 8.  Rachel

      I’m currently 5 months pregnant and I find that I am having memory lapses more often. Even after I am somehow reminded of what I forgot, I’ll forget again.
      I’ve heard about this recent study that showed there was not a considerable difference between pregnant women and non-pregnant women. I have to agree with there findings in that my memory lapses do seem to happen just because right now I have so many more things to remember to do than 5 months ago. And while women do have more multi-functional brains than men, there is a limit to just how multi-functional.

      Taking extra Omega-3 does seem to help with the memory lapses though.

      February 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    • 9.  jess

      @Juno, this is a really good point. I am not pregnant but sometimes I feel fuzzy because I don’t sleep enough and am stressed out!

      February 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    • 10.  Kristen

      When I was pregnant I walked out of the house numerous times without brushing my teeth! I felt so dumb. I mean really, I had been doing this task my whole life and now I can’t remember for several days in a row! Now that I’m a mom I find myself forgetting to do small things, like turn the heat down before I leave the house in the morning so we don’t have a huge gas bill!

      February 18, 2010 at 8:19 am

    • 11.  Liz

      I was very flaky during both pregnancies, so that was true for me. I think sleep deprivation has a real effect on cognitive abilities. But also mom’s just have a lot of things to remember!! I have to keep track of not just my own whole life, but both my little ones’.

      February 20, 2010 at 10:24 am

    • 12.  Josephine

      Kristen, I didn’t have that problem but when we first got home from the hospital after my son was born and our bag wasn’t unpacked yet, I couldn’t figure out where my toothbrush was so I used my husband’s. Problem was, I have an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes and my husband has a regular toothbrush. I must have brushed my teeth for 5 minutes before I realized it wasn’t going to tell me when to stop. I just kept brushing and brushing, thinking, “Man, this toothbrush goes a long time!”

      My memory was definitely worse in my 3rd trimester than at any other point in my life. I would regularly forget entire conversations had ever happened. It’s somewhat better now, but still not up to my pre-pregnancy level because of the sleep deprivation. Regarding the inability to remember words, though, I am completely incapable of remembering the word “vaporizer.” Whenever our son has a cold I’m constantly asking my husband if he remembered to turn the ventilator on.

      February 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

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