Momnesia: The beginning of new motherhood
“I feel as if I am in a mental fog!”
“Momnesia,” “Mommy Brain,” or “Brain Fog” are terms used to describe a new mother who does not feel as “sharp” as she did prior to her pregnancy. You may have occasional memory lapses and moments of forgetfulness. You may be having a difficult time making even the smallest decisions. Don’t despair! There is actually a scientific cause for this! It is a type of amnesia that you, as a new mother, may experience after birth. Believe it or not, this is exactly where your brain needs to be at this time, in order for you to bond and attach to your newborn.
Some of the causes for “Momnesia” are:
The Love Hormone
Did you know that there is such a thing as a Love Hormone? There are many terms used to describe the hormone that has changed your life as a new mother. It is the bonding hormone, the “falling in love” hormone, the cuddle chemical, the trust hormone, and the healing hormone. This hormone is known as oxytocin, and is produced by the hypothalamus (part of the brain that creates hormones), and released from the posterior pituitary (part of the brain that stores and releases these hormones into the circulation).
All of these hormonal changes may have an effect on the way you think and feel, while developing an increased awareness into your newborns needs.
Loving your newborn can cause you to feel mentally disorganized and unfocused, but you will become entranced with cuddling your newborn and actually feel withdrawal when you are separated. Your brain has changed, along with your devotion and loyalty, and a new sense of protectiveness comes over you.
A change in priorities can also cause you to become more forgetful and mentally foggy. New mothers develop a shift in memory priority; the types of things that you remember are different from before. You will find yourself remembering everything related to your newborn, including when he/she ate and was changed, how long he/she slept, and his/her daily habits.
However, there are some steps that you can take towards improving your memory to help you better manage your life with your newborn:
-Learn to accept help
Surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones, is not a luxury, it is a necessity!
-Sleep, sleep, sleep
As much as you can, whenever you can, wherever you can!
Sleep whenever your newborn sleeps, even if it is for a short time.
-Eat a well-balanced diet
This will not only help you improve your memory, but will increase your energy and make you feel stronger. Avoid or reduce sugar and caffeine, drink water, and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Keep easy snacks in your refrigerator that are high in protein and that you can grab with one hand. This will help increase your energy and brain health.
-Eat brain-friendly foods
Healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds (especially walnuts), flaxseed, and avocados are all good for promoting brain health. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, and walnuts are all good for your brain health. Lean proteins, such as fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, and can give you lots of energy and stamina.
Try to reduce tasks and spend time on what matters most: taking care of yourself and your newborn. Don’t overload yourself or your brain, and don’t expect to do everything you did before you had your baby.
Experience living in the moment, and enjoy every aspect of being a new mother. The more time you spend with your newborn, the faster and better the two of you will become in-sync. Slow down your pace, and you will slowly begin to feel like yourself again.
Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLC, has been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook. Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.