We all know that pregnancy can make you tired, emotional and put on weight (shock horror!), but did you know that it can also cause memory loss? I’ve been aware of this syndrome since I started working, one of my dear colleagues was pregnant and it became the perfect excuse for all her mishaps. It’s convenient for the mom-to-be but not for the social universe around her. Plus, the more one blames their selective memory on “Preggy brains”, the more they seemed to suffer from it. For years I questioned the reality of this condition. Does it affect all pregnant ladies? Is it preventable? So when I became pregnant, I set out to uncover this mind-boggling syndrome shrouded in mystery…
I started researching. I observed, asked around, professionals and experienced laymen, mothers and husbands. At last, this is my conclusion: the reason why many women succumb to preggy brains (aside from suffering from sleep deprivation and hormonal imbalances) is because they become quite absorbed with themselves (eg. their changing bodies, emotions, needs, etc) and their growing babies. So naturally, it is very difficult for them to think about other things. Kind of like the ‘Bridezilla” and the self-absorbed-teenage-syndrome. You know those pregnant women who are a little obsessive and point out all the things they can’t eat, who weigh themselves daily and read every book under the sun about birthing, breastfeeding and being a mom? Those are the most likely to suffer from “Preggy Brains”. So how do we prevent this scary syndrome?
The answer is pretty simple. Don’t become too self-absorbed. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t think about yourself or the baby, of course you should and you will. Otherwise you are suffering from another condition: amnesia. But it pays to sleep enough, stay active, physically and mentally, and to consider the needs of others, to stave off ‘preggy brains’. As you know, I’d been so undeservingly blessed, I didn’t suffer from any pregnancy symptoms. Hence I had no excuse not to stay super busy and active, and I was mindful not to over-assert my needs when I’m with family and friends. Looking back, these are the 7 things I did to prevent “Preggy Brains”:
1. Get Enough Sleep. First things first, you need to recharge your batteries each night especially as each day could bring you surprises on your pregnancy journey. But sometimes you just can’t fall asleep at night because of your changing body shape, irritating leg cramps or all those trips to the WC (literally in the wee hours of the night). So take every opportunity to nap my lady friends. On the couch, in the car (when you’re in the passenger seat), on public transport (because everyone will give you a seat!) so you can make up for the zzz’s you lost the night before. To be honest, I don’t nap in the afternoon because I don’t want to form this habit so I nap as soon as I get on public transport.
2. Learn New Things. I used to play the piano quite avidly, but that was almost a decade ago. It was a fluke that I suddenly had an urge to play again at the start of the year when hubby was away on holidays. Although it was a little depressing and excruciating to retrain myself to sight-read and play the scales again, I’m so glad that I persisted. Playing notes and memorizing scores has helped me prevent memory loss. Plus a bit of Bach and Beethoven works wonders for the mood too! Would you consider picking up a musical instrument?
3. Drinking Tea. You all know that I don’t have the best diet but my secret is that I drink a lot of tea. I used to drink a lot of green tea (hello antioxidants!) but according to Chinese medicine, it is not best to drink too much when you’re pregnant. The pregnant body is considered to be in a ‘heated state’ (as our body temperature increases) and since green tea is cooling, too much of it is not food for the baby. I received this sage advice from David Zhou, owner of Oriental Tea House and David’s in Prahran. He was kind enough to instruct me which teas to drink and to avoid. My daily brew now include either Peppermint, Chrysanthemum, or Lemongrass. These are great for digestion (no more afternoon slumpy feelings), calming of the mind (this one’s obvious), reducing blood pressure and ridding excess fats. Score!
4. Staying Physically Active. Staying fit and limber has so many health benefits but I will continue to elaborate on this one. In Asian culture, pregnant women are forbidden to do anything. No lifting, no running, no travelling, no wearing heels, some of them don’t even condone walking! Because I’m a rebel at heart, I decided to take these advice with heapings of salt. As you’ve seen on the blog, I’ve worn heels, I’ve travelled (throughout all 3 trimesters!) and I never stopped walking or climbing stairs. So many people who stand on escalators stare as they see a pregnant lady glide up the steps past them. Well, my daily cake intake has to go somewhere! And surely I don’t have to go through the physiology of how exercising helps to perfuse the body and the brain…
5. Being Sociable. As you have seen on social media and on the blog, I’ve attended less events this year after Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Sydney. Not because I needed to avoid alcohol, raw seafood or soft cheese temptations, but because my vet schedule (more on that next) has been so hectic I didn’t have time to go. And just as well, I already miss working so I am so thankful I was able to make the most out of vetting this year. Plus, I actually still have quite a hectic social schedule, I catch up with friends nearly on a daily basis. So ladies, make the most of your third trimester as it’s the perfect excuse to see your friends one last time before your bub’s arrival!
6. Working. Not only does working help you stay active mentally, physically and socially! As a locum veterinarian, I have no control over the hours offered to me. It just so happened that many colleagues went on holidays this year so I was able to work a lot, even more than before I was pregnant! As you can imagine, vets are busy doctors, we rarely sit down and we have to memorize a lot of stuff. Mainly names: names of clients, pets, conditions and medications. So I thank my job for saving me from “Preggy brains:!
7. Caring for Others. This one may seem strange but hear me out. When there’s another life growing inside you, when your hormones start misbehaving, and when you start planning a brand new chapter of your life, it is difficult not to become self-absorbed or even to have time for other people. But instead of directing 100% of ‘clucky love” to your unborn child, channel some of your care and support to people around you. Your family and friends will love you for it! Even better, care for someone who is not related to you and who cannot pay you back. And the bonus? Your baby will start to develop a caring nature in utero too!
I thank God so much for protecting me from “Preggy Brains”. In fact, I discovered that my memory has actually improved this year! So you see, contracting or preventing preggy brains is actually a choice. Your choice. Whether or not you choose to exercise, drink lots of tea, catch up with friends often or invest in crossword books, or even better, do all of the above, I am sure that you will not succumb to the invisible grasp of “Pregnant Brains”. You will continue to dazzle the world with your sharp intellect and glorious bump.
So what do you think? Have you ever suffered from “Preggy Brains”? Have you ever been given tips to avoid it?