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The Mommy Brain, It's better than you think!
My friend who just had a baby was worried about not being able to remember simple things. That brought me to my own memories of experiencing " mommy brain" When you stop in mid sentence because you forgot what you were going to say or walk into a room and forgot what you were going to get. In fact this is something that I am still experiencing! I assured my friend that this phenomenon of mommy brain will only get better!
And in fact it does get better. Although at times mothers genuinely feel drained of energy and dumber than a box of rocks, scientific evidence suggests mommy brain has the exact opposite effect. Time magazine quotes the experience of motherhood can "stimulate and enrich your brain and make you smarter!"
The Mommy Brain Book
There are many reviews out there on the mommy brain however Katherine Ellison seems to have the most information. She gives five principals that prove that a mother's cognitive skills improve over time. Mothers are said to be more adaptive to new situations. Ms Ellison also states mothers are good at multitasking. I agree with that totally. Multitasking is almost a survival skill! She states that mommy's are motivated. This is based on the urge to defend their children, She also talks alot about oxitocin, a hormone that increases resilience in moms. And finally, despite the rumors, a mother's intelligence improves over time.
Hormones are responsible for making us more flexible when dealing with the challenges of child rearing. Oxytocin is the hormone that helps our brain adapt to ever changing circumstances. Prolactin is another hormone that may have an impact on our our learning, memory and anxiety It is suggested that a new mother's emotional intelligence grows by leaps and bounds . In research conducted with rats it was discovered that pregnant rats had new synapses growing, suggesting they were ready for new learning.
Other reports state parts of the new mommie's brain actually get bigger. The parts of the brain that affect motivation and behavior are increased significantly. This is largely due to nature trying to reshape the brain so that a mother will be effective at taking care of their baby. Extra hormones in the form of oxytocin help the mother's brain develop. Research published in Behavioral neuroscience states the brains of 19 new mothers were scanned two to four weeks after giving birth and four months later. The results concluded that the mid brain region was bigger, which is linked to pleasure and the cerebral cortex was larger which his linked to planning and reasoning. Research has also proven that the mother's who gushed most about their babies were the ones who saw the most significant improvement. Sometimes new mothers get worried because they cannot remember simple things. However they can remember everything they need for their baby!
Dads get smarter too!
Research as shown that more involved father's have an influx of hormones too. Yes this is called Daddy Brain! it is stated that that a man who cares for his child can become more resourceful. Kelly Lambert, the same person who did the study with mice and the mommy brain is studying the brain circuitry of fathers. She has concluded that a dad's problem solving skills improve if they are actively involved in parenting. When studying paternal rats it was discovered that they were more apt at finding food and less likely to get stressed. Even when deer mouse was exposed to baby mice that were not his own, his brain reacted to the sights and sounds of the babies.
Research also suggests men go through hormonal changes while their wife is pregnant. According to author of the book The Male Brain, Louann Brizadine,. the male brain has a surge of cortisol. When fathers to be learn the baby is on the way cortisol sends an alert through the brain of the impending reality of fatherhood. Three weeks prior to child birth it the hormone testosterone drops to get him ready to be a daddy.
it just makes sense that brains of the parents of new born children increase with knowledge. nature has it's own way of making sure we can adapt to the challenges at hand. In my own experience as a mother I can look back at when my child was a baby and wonder how i did everything I did. No doubt it was the growth of the brain and influx of hormones that gave me a much needed boost!
What about those in helping postiions?
As I researched about the mommy brain and my own experiences I wondered if the brain of someone in a helping profession experiences some of the same growth? Although Google turned up nothing my own experience says yes. I worked with troubled adolescents for 10 years. I felt my brain go through a shift as I became very adept at problem solving. There was a time i was able to assess and react in a correct manner to many unpredictable situations. I would say since I was in charge of ten youth for a five day and night period in a week , a nurturing part came out in me. I would tend to believe parts of my brain got much bigger at this time!
Some great Mommy Brain Blogs!
- Sharpen up your mom brain
Just when you weren’t expecting it, the mom brain has taken over big time. Suddenly, you lose your train of thought mid sentence and often forget the simplest things that should never be forgotten. What can you do to sharpen your mom brain?
- Mommy Brain | Two Makes Four
- The Mommy Brain by Katherine Ellison
Journalist Katherine Ellison draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to demonstrate that, contrary to long-established wisdom that having children dumbs you down, raising children may make moms smarter. From enhanced senses in pregnancy and early
- A Muddled Mama: The dreaded "Mommy Brain"