Most moms have heard of or experienced “pregnancy brain,” the term used for feeling forgetful while pregnant. While the pregnancy brain theory has not yet been proven, a new study shows that pregnancy actually can change certain parts of your brain structure.
The study, conducted at the Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona, showed that the area in the brain responsible for processing social information gets rewired after new moms experienced their first pregnancy.
The researchers compared the MRI scans of 25 women before and after their first pregnancies. They found that the grey matter (neurons that process information and the cells that support them) reduced in a few areas in pregnant women. There were no brain changes in first-time fathers or people without children, leading the researchers to believe that pregnancy causes the brain changes.
These changes help new moms to bond with and take care of their babies, as they are better able to interpret the thoughts, emotions and desires of their little ones. The new mom can better understand what her baby needs, helping them to form a stronger mother-infant bond and help the baby grow up emotionally healthy.
When the researchers checked back in with the women after two years, the brain changes were still in place. This finding is the first evidence that pregnancy can cause long-term changes in the human brain.
While it doesn’t account for pregnancy brain forgetfulness, we still think it’s pretty awesome that pregnancy can cause brain changes that help tighten the bond between you and your baby!