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New research out of BYU says “pregnancy brain” – the loss of memory or concentration while pregnant – is a myth. Pregnant women everywhere say, “Yeah. We’re not the ones perpetuating this myth.”
Researchers examined a group of women in their third trimesters and again between three and six months postpartum. They also examined a group of women who had never been pregnant, to see how their brain activity differed. The study found “with every type of brain function measured – memory, thinking, organizational and spatial skills – the pregnant and postpartum women performed just as well as a comparison group of women with no history of pregnancy.”
The one area where they did not perform the same was the self-assessment. Pregnant and postpartum women consistently rated their memory lower than the non-pregnant participants. “I was surprised at how strong the feeling was that they weren’t performing well,” Michael Larson, lead author of the study, told BYU News. “This feeling of ‘I really am doing badly right now’ exists despite the objective evidence that they aren’t.”
The researchers hypothesize that the basis of the myth may stem from cultural expectations, or just the fact that some women tend to have a lower sense of well being while pregnant. Larson says a study like this may improve the quality of life for pregnant women when they realize their brains are functioning normally, even though they’re pregnant: “It might improve their quality of life, it might improve how they are functioning – they might start believing in themselves.”
They might start believing in themselves. Hmm… well maybe instead of addressing pregnant women with this study, we should address all of the employers who think having a pregnant woman on staff is a detriment. Maybe pregnant women will start “believing in themselves” when their contributions in the workplace stop being minimized, the general public stops petting their bellies like they’re show ponies, and every person they meet in the street stops assuming they need advice on everything from what to put in their mouth, to the kind of birth they should have.
I don’t know. It’s just a thought.
Here’s the lede from the BYU story: “Pregnant women sometimes blame absent-mindedness on the baby, but research says this myth is all in their heads.” I’d love to see an angle of “see – don’t minimize the ability of pregnant women to work and function” rather than, “silly ladies, it’s all in your heads!”
Just a thought. A very cohesive one, even from my formerly pregnant brain.