Pregnancy changes a mother's brain for up to two years after
A new study reveals how the changes help new mums
By Practical Parenting
December 20 2016
It turns out, baby brain is real but it has nothing to do with being forgetful.
European researchers found pregnancy changes a mother’s brain for up to years after giving birth.
The study, conducted at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Leiden University was published in Nature Neuroscience on Monday.
Researchers looked took brain scans of 25 women in their 30s in Spain who had never been pregnant but were hoping to conceive women at three stages: before they became pregnant, after giving birth, and again two years later.
They then compared their brains to first-time father and men without children.
The results showed a decrease in grey matter in the brains of first-time mothers.
“The regions of GM change affected by pregnancy are known to play a role in social cognition, and a visual inspection of the observed GM volume changes suggested a strong similarity to the theory-of-mind network,” the study states.
That said, study's lead author Elseline Hoekzema said, according to Science Mag, “We certainly don’t want to put a message out there along the lines of ‘pregnancy makes you lose your brain.’”
“Gray matter volume loss does not necessarily represent a bad thing,” she said. “It can also represent a beneficial process of maturation or specialisation.”
One of the reasons researchers believe this happens is to help women better bond with their child.
Hoekzema explains the loss of matter helps “a mother’s ability to recognise the needs of her infant, to recognise social threats or to promote mother-infant bonding.”