Most mothers know the term ‘baby brain’. We either assume it won’t affect us, or that it’ll be a short-term thing. Those of us who have done our research may even believe it’s nothing more than a myth. Many people claim baby brain makes mothers forgetful and scattered. But, a study reported on the Mail Online recorded that, while changes in the brain could be seen, there was no effect on memory recall or organisation. In fact, many sources claim baby brain does nothing more than make us better mothers. These findings are far from long-held views on the issue.
Scientific reasons aside, the majority of new mothers know that baby brain exists – and I can speak from personal experience. The extent to which it manifests is different for us all, but it’s there. Perhaps the problem comes from expecting the issue to be a scientific one. Instead, our scattered brains may be to do with the fact that we have a lot of extra pressure on our shoulders. Who doesn’t crumble under excessive strain? Like postnatal hair loss, and body changes, it’s inevitable. That’s why I’ve come up with some ways to beat baby brain.
Organisation is often the first thing that starts to suffer when you have a baby. Yet, never before will it have been so important. You’ll need to organise feeding schedules, as well as making room for play dates and baby groups. Plus, you’ll need to make monitor progress diaries for your child to ensure they reach their milestones. That would be too much for anybody, let alone a new mum. But, if you’re suffering from memory lapses and confusion, things get even more challenging. And, if you do start forgetting arranged dates or times, you’ll put more pressure on yourself to get it right. That’s far from ideal when pressure could be causing the problem, it’s a vicious circle.
The best way to solve the issue is to get yourself a diary. Writing things down helps cement them in your brain. And, if that doesn’t work, you’ve always got written proof of what you need to do. Get into the habit of checking your diary dates the night before. That way, you know what’s happening in advance. If you’re so forgetful that looking at your diary wouldn’t work, you could always get a wall calendar instead. That way your arrangements are there for you to see at all times. It may also be worth getting into the habit of writing to-do lists each day so you can make sure you’re taking care of the small commitments, such as household chores.
Another potential cause for baby brain is a lack of sleep. Your body has been through a major trauma, and needs rest to recover, But we all know that’s easier said than done. Instead, you have to make do with much less sleep than you’re used to while you get up to feed your baby. Unlike with baby brain, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest a lack of sleep can cause memory loss. So, that may well be the root of the problem. There’s no easy way around this issue, other than to sleep as soundly as you can when you get the chance. You’ll only have short chunks of time to sleep, so it’s crucial you nod off the moment your head hits the pillow. It might be worth stocking up on a new bed from a company like My Next Mattress. That way, you can rest assured that you’ll be comfortable. And, comfort is half the battle.
It may also be worth setting up an alternating schedule with your partner. You could take it in turns to get up, allowing you longer periods of time, which is what me and my husband did. Or, you could do one night on, one night off. That way, each of you will get at least one undisturbed night. Another way around the problem is to nap during the day if you can. You need to get into the habit of sleeping whenever possible, so napping is a practice worth getting into. Sleeping for an hour during the day may also make it easier for you to sleep fast and short when night comes.
There are many reasons to eat right when you’ve just given birth. For one, your body needs nutrition after all that trauma! For another, if you’re breastfeeding, everything you eat will have an effect on your baby. And, when it comes to baby brain, eating the right food could help you recover your wits. What we eat make a massive difference to our minds. That’s why certain foods fall under the category of ‘brain foods’. Scientists have found that eating omega 3 increases blood flow to the brain and improves performance. So, you can get smart if you eat right. Of course, we’re not thinking about intelligence here. We’re tackling those forgetful moments. Many foods can help with memory. Avocados are top of most lists, but blueberries, fish and walnuts also make appearances. You may be pleased to know that even dark chocolate has memory boosting abilities.
For the most part, it’s the vitamins and fats found in these foods that make a difference. And, they’re far from your only options. Do some research and plan a diet to get your brain back on its feet. And, as much as eating right can help your memory, the wrong foods may hinder it. Research is ongoing, but links between diet and issues such as memory loss, or even Alzheimer’s, are forever on the increase. Plus, if you’re eating things you shouldn’t, there’s less chance you’ll hunt down the foods that could be best for you.
The majority of new mums fail to stay as active as they should. Other than the quest to lose the baby weight, there can seem little point in keeping healthy. Besides, you’re exhausted, right? The chances are that exercise is the last thing on your mind – and no one will blame you for that. But, much like fish, exercise can promote blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain. Not to mention that it helps to blow away the cobwebs. If you stay inside one day after the next, is it any wonder that everything starts to blur together? The good news is, you don’t have to go crazy with this. Instead of hitting the exercise heavy, get into the habit of going for a half hour walk each day. You can take your baby with you, and both of you could benefit from the fresh air. Instead of hopping in the car to go to the shops, walk. It’ll make a huge difference.
ENRICH YOUR BRAIN
When we have a newborn we can often neglect our minds, so is it any wonder that they turn to mush? We spend hours watching repetitive children’s television, or worse, daytime TV! Instead, it might be worth spending time on a few activities that enrich your brain. Instead of getting caught in those kids programmes, make this the time when you read the news. You could even flex those mental muscles by giving the crossword puzzle a shot. Or, you could pick up a book and get into the habit of reading it whenever you have a minute. You may not think you’ll have time, but reading for five or ten minutes will still make a difference. Nonfiction is best for gaining knowledge, but even fiction has its mental benefits. In the evenings, you and your partner could get into the habit of playing word games like Scrabble. These will help sharpen you up, and you’ll feel more like yourself in no time. If you do occasionally fall into the television trap, watch something enriching. Documentaries allow you to relax, while still engaging your brain!
SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS
Never underestimate the importance of spending time with your friends. If they don’t have children themselves, it’s all too easy to lose touch. Friendship just doesn’t seem as important when you have new life on your shoulders. But, studies have revealed that people with larger friendship groups have bigger brains. So, your friendships may provide more than you realise. And, on a more general level, it’s crucial you spend time with adults. When you’ve been with your baby all day, you may start talking in that baby voice all the time. You start crawling the walls a bit and resorting to childish behaviours yourself. Seeing a fresh, adult face will make you feel better. Plus, you can talk about adult topics again. It’ll be a huge relief. The good news is, you can keep your baby with you while you do this. Your friend is sure to enjoy seeing your bundle of joy, and your child is sure to enjoy the chance to get out. It’s an activity that could work for everyone. Even if you haven’t arranged to meet anyone, it might be worth talking to another adult each day. You could always head to the shop and chat with the shop assistant if all else fails!