You have something on the tip of your tongue, but you just can’t figure it out – pregnancy dementia! At least that’s what they say. But the phenomenon is not so undisputed. Scientists are still debating whether it exists at all.
Yet more than 80 percent of all pregnant women suffer from phenomena like this: You can’t think of a word, even if it’s the name of your best friend. This is called a word-finding disorder.
At first, you don’t worry about it. But if the word-finding disorder occurs more frequently, you are worried. Here you can find out what is behind it.
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Signs Of Pregnancy Dementia
That pregnancy dementia can be funny is proven by numerous anecdotes among friends. Many reports about it can also be found online. But if you are pregnant yourself, you may not always feel like joking. Forgetfulness causes more and more chaos in the daily routine.
Frustration and stress reduce the quality of life. The English term for this is, significantly, Baby Brain.
Stress And Pregnancy Go Hand In Hand
Thinking suffers under stress. This is quite clear if you imagine the classic stress situation: If a primitive man was confronted with a dangerous wild animal, the brain switched to emergency mode. Then it prefers the simple reaction pattern flight or fight.
What does this have to do with pregnancy? A lot! When you are pregnant, you suffer from stress. Because our brain has hardly developed since then, you react as you did then: complicated thought processes are suppressed.
Only the most necessary physical processes still function. You secrete more stress hormones when you are pregnant. So your bodily functions change, as does your body chemistry.
You can’t do anything about all these stress reactions, at least not casually. But you can prevent them – and you’ll find out how to do that below. But first, let’s take a look at how you can recognize pregnancy dementia in the first place.
It always manifests itself in the same way.
This Is How Pregnancy Dementia Manifests Itself At The Beginning
As with real dementia, it starts slowly and increases later. In the beginning, you will only misplace your smartphone or your front door key. You won’t worry about it, because it happens often enough in normal life.
But what happens when it all starts to pile up? Then it looks a little different. And if the person concerned has never heard of pregnancy dementia, then she will be very worried.
Understandably, because now it no longer remains with a briefly occurring forgetfulness.
The episodes accumulate. Yesterday the front door key, today you are standing in front of the refrigerator and from one second to the next you no longer know what you were doing here.
You forget an important appointment, maybe even the one with the doctor. Up to this point, you may still be able to tolerate it. You may even find pregnancy dementia funny at first.
Pregnancy Dementia Funny: What Can Happen
Cooking food twice? Then your husband will laugh, and you too, I’m sure. After all, you have already eaten! Your husband will probably find it less funny when you forget his name: a veritable word-finding disorder.
Actually occurs in real pregnancy dementia.
Also, talking on the phone while simultaneously looking for the cell phone (which is in your hand) – very funny! But only for the others. You yourself don’t find all this funny at some point.
After all, if you are pregnant, you have to live with it. You realize how stressful this can be at the latest at the ATM, when you can’t remember your PIN. And that’s before you withdraw any money.
Advanced Pregnancy Dementia – This Is What It Looks Like
All these experiences, like any word-finding disorder, cause stress. A vicious circle if you don’t take countermeasures: In such situations, you may lose your nerve completely.
The initial little things that occurred from time to time now become a symptom.
And it just doesn’t seem to go away. Here it becomes clear why the whole thing is called pregnancy dementia: the symptoms are similar to those of real senile dementia.
Characteristics Of Pregnancy Dementia
- Forgetfulness: appointments, plans.
- Word finding disorder.
- Concentration problems.
So here, certain areas of memory are affected differently: verbal memory is responsible for word finding. But what is most noticeable is the reduced working memory.
This manifests itself in the fact that those affected confuse things: for example, putting the cell phone in the refrigerator compartment and putting the cheese in the handbag. Short-term memory, on the other hand, does not suffer as one might assume.
Rather, things that have to do with the future, i.e., require planning, get mixed up.
However, no brain cells die in the process. Rather, your brain actually learns as you accompany your child into life! This is one of the essential differences to senile dementia.
Only now are other things are important than before and your brain adjusts. Thus it can come already once to a word-finding disturbance!
Pregnancy Dementia: When Does It Occur?
Unfortunately, it happens more often when you need it least: in the last third of pregnancy. If we take a closer look at the causes, it also becomes clear why this is the case.
Pregnancy Dementia Causes
- Being pregnant and future role of mother require rethinking.
- Feelings go crazy.
While the circumstances of your life remain the same at the beginning of pregnancy, more and more changes as the birth approach. The more things you have to think about, the more your self-image as a woman and mother changes.
In addition, there is nausea and an appetite for the strangest foods. The child slowly makes itself felt in your belly. Your feelings can also get out of hand, so that you no longer understand yourself.
One important reason for this is the hormonal changes during your pregnancy. A word-finding disorder is really the lesser evil, isn’t it?
- Hormones change.
- Lack of sleep increases the signs.
Giving birth also brings about a change in hormones. When a child is born, estrogen, as well as progesterone, drop rapidly. The level of other hormones, on the other hand, increases: These include prolactin and oxytocin.
But even before this, the hormones are in a different ratio than before due to pregnancy. This leads to increased forgetfulness and word-finding problems when you are pregnant.
This increases again especially shortly before the end of it and after the birth. During the breastfeeding period, however, it is a case of lactation dementia.
Why Are The Hormones Prolactin And Oxytocin So Powerful?
These two are responsible for keeping you fully focused on your child. After all, you are responsible for its survival, which nature ensures with these hormones.
They ensure a strong bond between you and your child. The rest of the world sinks into insignificance.
Why Is Pregnancy Dementia Controversial?
Despite the correlations described above, studies come to different conclusions here. While a meta-analysis from 2018 found a significant reduction in brain performance in pregnant women, another study from Cambridge cannot confirm this.
That’s why pregnancy dementia is still controversial.
Pregnancy Dementia: 1 Trimester
However, numerous observations online as well as privately confirm the meta-analysis. It finds a reduction in cognitive performance during the last three months before birth.
Therefore, we usually attribute pregnancy dementia to 1-trimester duration. However, the onset can be observed much earlier, during the first trimester.
Pregnancy Dementia And Gender: How Is It Related?
Scientists also disagree on another question: does the sex of the baby affect pregnancy dementia? Canadian scientists said in 2005: it does! A baby boy, they said, is less likely to develop pregnancy dementia.
If, on the other hand, you are expecting a girl, this will also affect your memory. Have you thought about a name yet? Rare boy names or rare girl names are very popular.
The researchers named the HCG level as the reason for this. This is another pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin. Produced in the placenta, it ensures that the “pregnant!” signal reaches the ovaries and pituitary gland.
As a result, ovulation and menstruation do not occur. Only five years later, however, Australians studied the same effect in 1200 pregnant women. They found no evidence for the thesis that pregnancy dementia occurs at all.
Accordingly, the sex of the unborn child cannot be causative either.
Who Does Pregnancy Dementia Affect?
About 80 percent of all pregnant women suffer from pregnancy dementia. However, people often do not distinguish between pregnancy dementia and related breastfeeding dementia.
Therefore, exact numbers are not available.
Does Pregnancy Dementia Go Away On Its Own?
Yes, because the brain continues to develop, unlike true dementia. The latter also occurs extremely rarely at such a young age.
Therefore, don’t worry, although you may suffer more from word-finding disorder: It will go away. And the more you do, the faster it will go away.
Self-care is one of them: Learn more here about how to keep your needs in mind as a mother!
Pregnancy Dementia Prevention: What You Can Do
Despite all this, there is a lot you can do to mitigate pregnancy dementia. Being pregnant depends on so many factors that you have a good chance of escaping it altogether.
Take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you. These are mainly the following:
Before The Birth And After
Get organized: Make lists of things to do. Hang a bulletin board on your wall. Use offline Post-Its and notebooks. In your cell phone, there is a reminder function or calendar apps to help you.
Develop helpful routines, such as always putting your keys in the same place.
Avoid stress wherever possible: make sure you get enough and good sleep. Delegate tasks you can’t handle. You don’t have to do everything yourself!
Train your memory! Make sure it stays active. Brain jogging, such as crossword puzzles, is a good way to do this.
Eat And Drink
Change your meals to whole foods if you haven’t already. Above all, eat a balanced and varied diet. Drink enough.
We recommend three liters a day, and then especially spritzer or water.
After Birth: Breastfeed Your Child
Breastfeeding is not only good for your child. It’s also good for you: You can reduce the release of the stress hormone cortisol. As a result, you are more relaxed and concentrated. Do you already own a nursing cloth?
Pregnancy dementia will then no longer be so common. Under stress, however, the brain suffers!