The Idea Of “Mom Brain” Might Just Be Based On Sexism And Stereotypes
The idea that motherhood is associated with a decline in cognitive abilities may be totally wrong.
It’s safe to say that most moms have suffered from forgetfulness, fogginess, and difficulty concentrating. This cognitive disconnect is more commonly known as “mom brain.”
Mom brain is a term that’s been known to affect pregnant people and those that have already given birth. While there are countless times when I know I’ve blamed my scattered mom brain on chasing after my rambunctious toddler, it seems that I might be a bit too hard on myself.
A new article — released in the journal JAMA Neurology — theorizes that associating motherhood with a decline in cognitive abilities might be unfair and all wrong.
Turns out, there’s not much of a difference between the cognitive abilities of women with kids and women without kids, according to the new article’s authors, Dr. Clare McCormack, Dr. Bridget L. Callaghan and Dr. Jodi L. Pawluski.
Now, this is not to say that these kind of brain fog symptoms are not prevalent in pregnancy and motherhood. Studies show that up to 80% of pregnant women report having some sort of memory loss and foggy brain symptoms.
So, if 8 out of 10 moms admit feeling a little scatterbrained sometimes, why does the research not support that?
Researchers considered the fact that “mommy brain” might not be a real thing at all and society just judges moms way too harshly.
Forgetting to sign a permission slip or putting your kids shoes on the wrong feet (something a dad or grandparent could also easily do) is labeled as “mommy brain” instead of just “being an imperfect human.”
Researchers also hypothesized that women who are being tested during these studies may not be tested on the right subjects in order to really understand how a mom’s brain works.
When moms are participate in studies that more accurately mimic the reality of their new circumstances (multitasking, keeping up a house on little sleep, etc.), they actually perform better than women without kids. Testing mothers on parenting tasks showed a boost in learning and an improvement in long-term memory overall, the authors explained.
A pregnant person’s brain actually alters during their pregnancy journey, including alterations in gray matter and regions involved in self-perception, according to a 2022 study.
These changes "may confer adaptive advantages for a mother's gestational and maternal behavior and the establishment of the new mother-child relationship," according to the study researchers, from Amsterdam University Medical Center.
So, based on that study, “mom brain” actually makes moms into maternal superheroes.
Lastly, researchers found that when women are being studied in a lab and away from their chaotic homes, the calm nature of their environment could alter their brain activity and “mom brain” goes away.
Without a child asking for a snack every ten seconds as the TV blares Cocomelon while simultaneously trying to figure out which household task to get done first, thinking becomes easier and moms perform tasks just as well as women without children.
Yes, that’s right! Going to participate in a scientific research study could potentially be a welcomed brain break for a stressed out mom. Forget Target — take us to the lab!