You’re Not Crazy. #MommyBrain is Real.

I just sent my boss an email. The same exact email I sent her on Friday. Verbatim.

I get an email back with a “?”

“Mommy brain!” I quip in my response.

Crickets chirping. I know this isn’t an excuse. But like my post declares, #mommy brain is real.

As mothers and/or caretakers, our mind is constantly juggling 50,000 thoughts, feelings, ideas and tasks. Yet, we must be on top of it 100% of the day with no excuses.

Some day, a genius innovator will sell an implantable microchip, a second brain. It will be intuitive enough to think for us and control voluntary and involuntary movements so that EVERYTHING gets done each day. They will smartly market to moms. Build it and they will come.

Until then, I will get an eye roll for my #mommybrain excuses. I don’t do well with check lists. I make a list as a symbol of empowerment. I WILL do XYZ today. Inevitably, it goes to shit, a crumpled ball in my coat pocket.

A 2010 study found:

“In the first months after giving birth, the study found, parts of a mother’s brain may actually grow. Even better news, doting mamas who gushed the most about how special and perfect their babies were showed the most growth.

The parts of the brain that grew are involved in motivation, reward behavior and emotion regulation. That suggests that, by reshaping itself, the postpartum brain motivates a mother to take care of her baby, and then feel happy and rewarded when she does.

But studies in mice, rats, and other mammals have shown growth and other physical changes in the brains of new mothers. These changes appear to prepare the animals for their new roles. And the mothers’ brains remain altered for the rest of their lives.

To see if the similar changes might happen in people, Kim and colleagues scanned the brains of 19 mothers a few weeks after giving birth and again three to four months later. Their results, published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, showed a small but significant amount of growth in a number of brain regions, including the hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala.

These are the areas that motivate a mother to take care of her baby, feel rewarded when the baby smiles at her, and fill her with positive emotions from simple interactions with her infant. These brain areas are also involved in planning and foresight, which might help a mother anticipate her infant’s needs and be prepared to meet them.

In other words, basic changes in the brain might explain the unconditional love, constant worrying and snack-packing habits that many people call a “maternal instinct.”

The researchers speculate that pregnancy hormones prime the brain to be open to reshaping when a newborn arrives. And while it’s not yet clear whether changes in a mother’s brain stimulate her to care for her child, or whether caring for a child changes the brain, the study showed a clear relationship. What’s more, mothers who talked most positively about their babies underwent the biggest changes.”

Uh-oh. Am I not praising Andrew enough? Am I too negative with this whole “mommy” thing they call parenting? If my doctor did a before and after brain scan, would my before brain look robust and healthy and my after brain resemble oatmeal gruel?

Alas and alack, the “not good enough” mommy thoughts return. Cue controversial topic… is it wrong to still want to be myself when I was pre-baby? I still love to learn, write, work and have me time just as much as I did before. Clearly my hormones didn’t change that. Also, is it wrong to play a little Godsmack when junior is sleeping in the backseat? Or view my previous 20-something-lifestyle photos while making Andrew’s snack?

I don’t think that gushing about your baby 24/7 is the healthiest thing for mommas. I think this study tries to reassure parents that new mother anxiety is normal, but I can see societal norms influenced in this study-  a dangerous and slippery slope. Yes, this study is grounded in scientific testing, but is it truly causative? I can’t prove my questions are valid, but it makes me wonder Carrie Bradshaw-style: Does a bigger brain make you a better mother?


One thought on “You’re Not Crazy. #MommyBrain is Real.

  1. Syn_Sunflower says:

    Lol Carrie Bradshaw style. Love post. I’m not a mother but to be honest I’ve heard mommy brain before. You forget because you have a million other things going on. 🙂


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