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Do pregnant women really suffer from 'pregnesia'?

From morning sickness to heartburn to a new-found appreciation for elasticized waistbands, pregnancy enacts enormous change in the lives of those it holds hostage for nine months. We know it makes you gain weight but does it make you, um, forgetful too?

Pregnant woman

Masterfile

From morning sickness to heartburn to a new-found appreciation for elasticized waistbands, pregnancy enacts enormous change in the lives of those it holds hostage for nine months. We know it makes you gain weight but does it make you, um, forgetful too?

Most women seem to think so.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, two-thirds of those surveyed (in several polls conducted over many years) are convinced that the blessed event is of the mixed variety, alleging that when pregnant they felt mentally less ‘with-it’ and suffered from problems with memory.

The fog of pregnancy, dubbed pregnesia by some, is mostly the stuff of anecdote, granted ongoing life by women who bear witness to their own allegedly declining cognitive skills. Personal tales aside, is there any truth to the rumour that a baby on board can scramble your pistons?

The article goes into some detail involving women before, during and after pregnancy. For every bit of research that supports the notion of cognitive impairment, there is another study, equally persuasive that nullifies the negative findings. In a specific recent case, the same 2011 study produced one result in the field and another result in the lab, the differing outcomes managing to effectively cancel themselves out.

Interestingly, studies with pregnant rats and other mammals were more consistent — and surprising, given the generally prejudiced view towards their human counterparts — revealing that the rodents, far from faltering, demonstrated marked improvement in several areas, both mental and physiological.

Inspired by the rats, researchers, armed with new study results, now suggest that pregnant women may enjoy a similar cognitive boost during pregnancy — a heightened perception of danger being among the benefits. With gestation earning a passing grade from science, if you do something dumb and you happen to be expecting, you no longer have pregnancy to blame.

Don’t worry, there’s always the man in your life to pick up the slack.

Did you suffer from ‘baby brain’ when you were pregnant?