Baby brain does exist, studies show

Pregnant woman holding her head

It's not just an old wives' tale after all – and yes, we already knew that, but researchers have now found measurable evidence for forgetfulness in pregnancy. The cause, however, is still unknown

'Baby brain', the mental fog that many women say they experience during pregnancy, is a genuine, measurable phenomenon, according to an Australian study (January 2018).

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, involved more than 1,200 women and resulted in researchers concluding that overall cognitive functioning was poorer in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. About four out of five women report experiencing cognitive changes during pregnancy.

When can 'baby brain' occur?

The study found that these changes happened early in pregnancy, but didn't manifest themselves until the third trimester.

The researchers said, “General cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning [attention to detail, planning and problem solving] were significantly reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy, but not during the first two trimesters.” The changes to cognitive function were reported to be of the 'mild' variety (for example, forgetting to book a medical appointment). However, researchers said more study was needed to really understand the affect of baby brain on pregnant women, why it happens, and whether it goes away after giving birth.

Mumsnetters' tales of baby brain

We've all been there – whether it's finding the phone in the freezer, or losing track of the children dog. Here are some of the experiences shared on Mumsnet Talk:

“Whilst putting some bedding away in the airing cupboard, next to the man painting our hall, I said – to the sheets – 'In you pop'.”

“I went out with the cordless landline phone thinking it was my mobile, then tried to use it to phone home and was puzzled for ages that it said 'out of range'.”

“I forgot how to spell my daughter's name whilst booking an appointment. In my defence, it is a long name and I forgot where I was up to.”