DON’T BLAME IT ON THE BABY BRAIN

RE­SEARCH DE­BUNKS MYTH SUR­ROUND­ING BE­HAV­IOUR DUR­ING PREG­NANCY

Life & Style Weekend - - RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON

To­day I’m pass­ing on re­search on a topic of women’s health I’ve per­son­ally solidly re­lied on for many years. Count­less ex­cuses have been based on this tag line as a solid and ac­cept­able ex­pla­na­tion for my hu­man short com­ings.

Pe­ruse my ex­ten­sive list of “stupid things I’ve done or for­got­ten to do”, you’ll find many rea­sons why un­der this cat­e­gory.

It has been an ac­cept­able fall back for the times when I’ve been a sub­stan­dard wife who can’t re­mem­ber what my point was in the first place, for­get­ful mother of “ca­sual clothes day” and when I’ve re­ferred to a client by the wrong name.

This for­giv­ing jus­ti­fi­ca­tion has been com­monly used by the sis­ter­hood in his­tory for good­ness knows how long.

How­ever I’m dev­as­tated to re­veal: baby brain is not a thing.

“Surely not” the moth­ers of the Sun­shine Coast gasp. I know, I also have needed to take time out to digest this shock­ing news.

“How could this be?” you yell at me. “You’re kid­ding me, right?” you

ex­claim. Sorry ladies, you’ve bought into a stereo­typed and cul­tural mis­con­cep­tion.

I can see all the hairy male types by now are com­pletely ex­as­per­ated and con­fused.

It’s timely I drop into this ar­ti­cle, cred­i­ble sources such as “Na­ture Neu­ro­science”, which pub­lished find­ings of an ex­ten­sive and thor­ough study on first time moth­ers’ brains that were scanned be­fore and af­ter preg­nancy.

A com­puter pro­gram was able to automatica­lly tell if a wo­man had been preg­nant based on her brain scans.

So why did I for­get to get out of my py­ja­mas, eat nor cover my­self af­ter breast­feed­ing be­fore an­swer­ing the door? Re­searchers did see some ev­i­dence in small re­duc­tions in mem­ory in the third trimester of preg­nancy and just af­ter­ward.

Lack of sleep due to dis­com­fort, aching and ner­vous an­tic­i­pa­tion is a log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for any for­get­ful­ness here. There is also the no­tion of “pri­mary ma­ter­nal pre­oc­cu­pa­tion”, which means I would’ve been so fo­cussed on my new lit­tle bun­dle of amaze­ment to the ex­clu­sion of any­thing else. That poor courier man.

Short­com­ings in the de­tail of MRI scans in hu­mans re­quire re­searchers to ex­am­ine ex­pec­tant ro­dents. Moth­er­hood makes fe­male ro­dents smarter as com­pared to their child-free sis­ters.

Re­searchers sus­pect the same of hu­mans. Neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests con­sis­tently and sur­pris­ingly find that de­spite women’s be­lief of their poor cognition, they prove oth­er­wise.

Hey mums, we are smarter than we thought so don’t buy into the cul­tural be­liefs and stereo­types around your roller-coaster of emo­tions since giv­ing birth.

One im­por­tant take­away from Dr Mckay was the im­por­tance of thriv­ing in large so­cial groups ben­e­fit­ing from the watch­ful eye of more ex­pe­ri­enced moth­ers and grand­moth­ers.

Fast for­ward this to fam­i­lies in 2019 on the Sun­shine Coast and you’ll find plenty first-time moth­ers dis­tant ei­ther emo­tion­ally or ge­o­graph­i­cally from their birth moth­ers, fre­quently apart from their part­ner work­ing long hours of­ten away and iso­lated. Our vil­lage is miss­ing. What is es­sen­tial to a healthy brain and ma­ter­nal well­be­ing? Love and so­cial con­nec­tion.

Joanne Wil­son is a neuro psy­chother­a­pist, re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist, ra­dio co-host, work­shop fa­cil­i­ta­tor and guest speaker. Con­tact www.the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­selling.com

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