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This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Needed, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.

‘Mommy Brain’ Is Real—Here’s How to Cope With It

mommy brain cognitive supplement"
mommy brain cognitive supplement
Source: Needed
Source: Needed

Being pregnant and going through the postpartum stage brings on a bevy of changes. While we may have heard about fluctuating hormones and learned the signs of postpartum depression, there’s another sneaky change that enters the lives of moms. It starts off subtle and then seems to crescendo to the point where its presence is unmistakable. That’s right, we’re talking about “mommy brain.”

First things first: What is “mommy brain” exactly? According to some of the mothers I know in my life, it’s what occurs when moms randomly seem to forget things or experience brain fog. It can be something as small as losing your keys—when they’re right in your hands—or forgetting your work bag is on top of your trunk because you were putting your infant in their car seat (which may or may not be based on a true story).  

So why does “mommy brain” exist? According to Stephanie Greunke, a registered dietician who specializes in prenatal/postnatal nutrition, 80 percent of moms experience working memory trouble or brain fog during pregnancy and postpartum. “It starts as early as the first trimester of pregnancy and often becomes more noticeable in the third trimester and postpartum,” Stephanie notes. There are very real physiological reasons behind this, including significant hormonal shifts that affect the grey matter in our brains. “Studies show that the brain remodels after pregnancy to support maternal attachment, which can impact working memory. The brain changes can be seen for at least two years postpartum.

Simply put, it’s not a matter of mothers becoming forgetful. Their brain actually grows to adapt and focus on caring for their children. As someone who has struggled with feeling as if her memory is not as sharp as it used to be, I feel relieved knowing that “mommy brain” is scientifically acknowledged. Here are a few ways we recommend processing and working through forgetful “mommy brain” moments.

Nourish Your Brain

Stephanie said it best: “The mental load on women is heavy.” Moms have to maintain a constant juggling act from caregiving to household management to work responsibilities for those who have jobs outside of the home. On top of the physiological changes our bodies go through, motherhood also comes with a myriad of major lifestyle changes (sleep loss, stress, skipped meals) that contribute to brain fog. But how can we possibly make sure our brains are getting the proper nutrients when finishing a plate of food while balancing a crying baby on your hip feels impossible?

There are a few main things Stephanie suggests for supporting healthy brain function, like eating anti-inflammatory foods, reducing or avoiding alcohol, keeping stable blood sugar levels, and feeding your brain with optimal nutrients. That last one is perhaps the easiest to accomplish with a supplement like Needed’s Cognitive Support. Needed is a prenatal brand founded by mothers and trained nutritionists, and Stephanie also happens to be one of their key advisers. She notes that the ingredients in Cognitive Support were selected by women’s health experts specifically made to help with symptoms of mommy brain.

“Cognitive Support is a unique blend of nine targeted nootropic and botanical ingredients that support focus and attention, brain health and memory, and alleviate brain fog and eye fatigue,” Stephanie says, “It was also designed with breastfeeding mothers at the forefront.” Unfortunately, many other nutritional supplements for brain health just don’t cut it for breastfeeding moms and tend to be formulated toward the general population or men (no surprise there). Needed filled that gap with a product that’s safe and highly effective since “92 percent of women taking Cognitive Support saw an improvement in overall cognitive function within four weeks,” according to a Needed in-market study. All in all, both experts and moms agree: This supplement will help you feel like you again.

needed cognitive support supplement
Cognitive Support

A much-needed option for moms that includes effective ingredients to support a healthy stress response and overall cognitive function. If you’re lost in post-baby fog, try Cognitive Support and take 20 percent off new subscriptions with code EVERYMOM20.

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Invest in a Digital or Physical Planner

These days, I absolutely have to make note of things, or they will slip my mind. There are doctor’s appointments, important daycare dates, work and school deadlines, etc. to remember. Instead of lamenting the fact that I can’t remember things the way I used to, I ask myself, “Is it mentally possible for you to remember all of this?” and “Why do you feel you need to hold everything inside of your mind?” This helps me relinquish control and enlist the help of something that’s typed or written down. The tangible reminder helps it stick.

Take the Nap

I know this can be a little controversial. Trust me, I used to lash out when I heard people tell me to get as much rest as possible during my pregnancy. It was even worse when I heard “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I thought it was insulting because “Oh my gosh, there is so much housework to do” or “I haven’t taken a shower!” The point is—it does not help anyone if we neglect ourselves. Sleep deprivation usually comes with the territory when caring for a newborn or infant, but we can find moments to sleep. 

If my son goes down for a nap, then so do I. He may sleep for about 45 minutes at a time, so I relax for 45 minutes out of the X amount of hours I’m awake. Doing this has allowed me to not only start feeling better, but my brain also doesn’t feel as foggy as it used to. 

mommy brain planner
Source: Christina Jones Photography for The Everygirl

Exercise Grace and Patience (With Yourself)

Being pregnant, giving birth, and caring for children is no small feat. Again, our hormones fluctuate, and our body changes. No matter if you’re a first-time mom or a seasoned mom, each pregnancy and birthing experience can be different. While there are a plethora of resources available to help us navigate these changes, dealing with them is a continual learning process. Mothers are already placed under a microscope for a number of reasons, so we don’t need to scrutinize ourselves even more. We deserve to extend ourselves some grace.

Ask for Help

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom if you need help caring for your children or help remembering things. Moms are not meant to be superheroes. The media and society have drilled into our minds that we are supposed to take care of everyone and everything, but that’s detrimental. I know some moms are not in a position where they have a partner at home, but help can come in many forms: therapy, trusted family members, church (if you attend), daycare, and so on. There is no badge of honor in motherhood. It’s time to take the resilient mommy cape off. 

If you feel like you’re struggling to remember things, you are not alone. I’m personally right there with you. I can’t say when it’ll get better, but I like to think it’s not about our situations changing completely. Just as our brains change and expand so we can take on the role of motherhood, we change and expand as well. 

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This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Needed, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.