Why giving birth causes memory loss

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A majority of pregnant women and those who have given birth often confess that they have become forgetful.

A lady by the name Sally Mueni confessed one year after giving birth that she had difficulties in her secretarial work after she could not remember where she placed certain files, notes or what she was told to report on.

Woman realizes she forgot about something [Source: Freepik]

‘’I just forgot so many things, for me I could not remember small details,” Mueni said.

Other women have confessed to forgetting where they placed their keys, wallet, a mobile number or a meeting.

In 2008, a study was conducted that confirmed indeed pregnancy causes slight memory loss.

Two Australian researchers who conducted the study in more than 1000 women analyzed 14 studies from around the world that tested the memory performances of more than 1,000 women — expectant women, mothers, and non-pregnant females.

The study, however, was observed in only one year and could not establish whether the forgetfulness lasts longer.

The study authored by Dr. Julie Henry and Dr. Peter Rendelle from Melbourne’s Australian Catholic University was published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology,

The memory loss is subtle, and usually involves unfamiliar or demanding tasks, Dr. Julie Henry, one of the authors of the study, told CNN on Tuesday.

“What we found is that memory tasks which are more challenging or more novel, or those that would require multitasking — these types of tasks are likely to be disrupted,” said Henry, a senior lecturer in Sydney’s University of New South Wales.

Dr Zara Chan, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at OT&P’s Woman and Child Clinic in Hong Kong’s Central district confirms that the forgetfulness popularly known as baby brain is real.

However, it is just the woman’s free recall memory that’s impaired. Her long-term or recognition memory is not.

 “So, for example, a pregnant woman might struggle to recall what she came into a room for or where she left her keys, but she will still remember an experience or event that happened years ago,” Dr Chan says.

“The surge of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone during pregnancy is also believed to affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, impairing how they relay messages and therefore making memory more difficult to form,” Dr Chan says.

“In addition, changes in oxytocin receptors, which help promote lactation, are thought to impair memory during and after pregnancy,” she continues.

 A pregnant or lactating woman’s focus on her new priorities and worry are said to give the brain more work in processing and focus. Fatigue and Lack of good sleep is also associated with poor memory.

Dr, Chan advises women experiencing “baby brain” to write down every task they need to do so that they can manage their tasks better.

Partners have also been encouraged to support those women and help them carry out some tasks.

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