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Research says pregnancy brain is a myth

A hallmark of pregnancy — the so-called “pregnancy brain” — might not really exist, say researchers from Brigham Young University.

A small study conducted by researchers Michael Larson, Dustin Logan, Kyle Hill, Rochelle Jones and Julianne Holt-Lunstad has revealed that pregnancy brain might not really be a thing. They took 21 pregnant women and 21 women who had never been pregnant to see if they performed differently on a variety of memory and cognition tests, and they say the results show that pregnancy brain might be a socially constructed phenomenon, because our pregnant brains are just as good as our non-pregnant brains.

Specifically, the in-depth tests measured spatial relations, memory, language, thinking, planning and cognitive ability of the two groups. They were brought in twice, and both times they found that the pregnant group did just as well in these categories as the never-pregnant group. However, there was one distinct disparity — the pregnant women graded themselves poorly, believing they did worse than they really did.

The researchers surmised that it was actually sleep deprivation rather than a physical manifestation of pregnancy that compromised a pregnant woman’s memory.

Have we been duped? Is this for real?

A quick poll of my mom friends, including ones that are currently pregnant, shows that most feel pregnancy brain really is a thing. “I was very confused as to why I had become so confused until I learned about ‘pregnancy brain,'” shares Megan, mom of one. “I thought it would go away after the delivery. Then I learned about ‘mom brain.’ I’m in a perpetual cycle of ‘Today is a fresh start!’ to ‘I meant to do a thing…’ to ‘I’m on top of my game!’ to ‘Why am I here?’ And back around again. It’s riveting.”

Jackee, pregnant with her second baby, agreed. “If you consider putting your car keys in the fridge and a container of coffee creamer in your purse a myth, then yea, sure,” she says. Lisa, mom of three, thought this study was a bit of a waste of time. “Of course I know my brain is in full working order, but dude, you’re pregnant, your brain is overloaded with stuff, and anyone that makes a list will remember stuff better.”

So while memory and cognition tests might not reveal an actual cognitive deficiency, moms say that insinuating that the phenomenon of “pregnancy brain” is not real is pretty silly, even though one of the researchers says she hopes these results will help women believe they aren’t as forgetful as they think they are. “It’s definitely real,” says Carrie, mom of three. “And once you have it, it never completely goes away.”

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