Baby brain is real! 10 tips to get over baby brain

baby brain

*This is a guest post

Do you find you waste time searching for your keys, purse, or phone?  Or maybe you experience the embarrassment of events or names that have completely slipped your mind thanks to your mum brain.  You’re not alone and there’s good news if you want to get over baby brain: it is possible to improve your memory.

Let’s talk baby brain first, is it real?

Yes, baby brain is real!

We all produce a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is closely linked to memory.  It can

  • help create new brain cells in the brains’ memory centre, the hippocampus,
  • help repair existing brain cells and
  • can act as a natural antidepressant

Research shows that BDNF declines throughout pregnancy[1].  Luckily, it recovers once baby is born.  So why do mums commonly feel like their memory is worse?

Stress & Memory

One possible explanation is stress.  Being presented with a new life that is solely dependent on you might be anxiety inducingly stressful or depressingly overwhelming.  Or maybe it’s stressfully questioning yourself: Am I doing this right? Why are they crying?  Or all of the above.

It is commonly known that stress negatively impact memory.  Several studies have linked anxiety and depression to poorer memory in mums[2],[3],[4]. Maybe you’ve heard of the stress hormone cortisol.  It can inhibit production of memory boosting BDNF and may prevent you forming new memories.

baby brain

10 Memory Boosting Activities & Food Tips

The following 10 tips aim to tip the BDNF: cortisol balance in favour of BDNF so….

less stress, better memory and maybe even better mood!

Activities

Physical Exercise

The number one strategy to improve BDNF levels in everyone.  Especially effective were short (30 to 40 seconds) intense bursts. German researchers confirmed this was true even in late pregnancy[5],

Mental exercise

Learning something new to protect your brain and may increase BDNF levels.  Try swapping 5 minutes of Facebook a day to 5 minutes learning a new language on Duolingo.  Or learn something physical, juggling anyone?  What would you like to learn?

Breathe deeply

It could help you handle stress.  Try to take a mental step back and a few deep breaths.  It helps lower cortisol.  Less cortisol could help improve BDNF levels and memory.  For a few coats for 1 minute help oxygenate brain and reduce stress anxiet the y

Listen to music

Listening to music has been shown to increase BDNF[6].  The Chinese researchers used Mozart, maybe you could experiment with other types of music?

baby brain

Get outside

Go for a walk a green space.  In the winter the sun isn’t high enough to produce vit D, which increase BDNF, but simply being in nature is shown to reduce cortisol and increase positive feelings.

Spend time with friends

It could decrease stress and improve BDNF levels.  Read more about the health benefits of friendship

Food tips

Have a cup of tea

Polyphenols (a type of antioxidant flavonoids) found to both regular and green tea have been shown to stimulate pathways to increase BDNF levels.  The polyphenols in green tea are more powerful.

baby brain

Avoid sugar and processed food

Sugar combined with high processed fats found in processed foods have been linked to smaller hippocampus (the brains’ memory centre) and shown to decrease BDNF[7].  Interestingly, obesity is linked to poorer memory.

Eat deeply coloured vegetables & fruit

UK researchers showed flavonoids in deeply coloured vegetables and fruit may increase BDNF levels and thinking abilities[8].  For example beetroot, carrots, dark green leafy greens and berries.

Eat dark chocolate

The same researchers showed high flavonoid cocoa (over 70%) increases BDNF.

Baby brain is real! 10 tips to get over baby brain #baby #pregnancy #motherhood #momlife

Hopefully using these 10 simple tips will help improve your memory.  Download the 10 Memory Boosting Tips.  If you’d like further support from me, you might be interested in How To Improve Your Memory in 28 Days.  Find out more HERE.

Sources:

[1] L. Christian, et al. (2016) Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) across pregnancy and postpartum: Associations with race, depressive symptoms, and low birth weight.

[2] E. Kstaja, et al (2017) Pregnancy-related anxiety and depressive symptoms are associated with visuospatial working memory errors during pregnancy

[3] E. Hampson. (2015) Working memory in pregnant women: Relation to estrogen and antepartum depression

[4] D. Logan, et al (2014) How do memory and attention change with pregnancy and childbirth? A controlled longitudinal examination of neuropsychological functioning in pregnant and postpartum women.

[5] S. Vega, et al (2001) Responses of serum neurotrophic factors to exercise in pregnant and postpartum women

[6] X. Yingshou, et al (2016) Music exposure improves spatial cognition by enhancing the BDNF level of dorsal hippocampal subregions in the developing rats

[7] J. Beilharz, et al. (2015) Diet-Induced Cognitive Deficits: The Role of Fat and Sugar, Potential Mechanisms and Nutritional Intervention

[8] S. Neshatdoust, et al. (2016) High-flavonoid intake induces cognitive improvements linked to changes in serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor: Two randomised, controlled trials.

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9 comments

  1. It is definitely real. I wonder if it is a factor in postnatal depression as well. I am sure lack of sleep and adult conversation make it worth.

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