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Is pregnancy brain real? Here's why you feel forgetful

Some jokingly call it momnesia, and others refer to it as pregnancy brain. But whatever you want to call it, it's the chronic forgetfulness that some women experience when they're pregnant.

Many women report that they have a hard time concentrating while pregnant—they feel like they're more forgetful now that they're expecting. Problems like remembering where they set their keys become more frequent, for example. But what is it about being pregnant that's causing these minor lapses in memory?

What causes pregnancy brain?

While surprisingly little research has been conducted on the topic of pregnancy brain, it's tempting to blame your foggy brain on hormones. After all, your hormones are basically on overload when you're pregnant.

Another explanation is fatigue or sleep deprivation, which is particularly pronounced early in pregnancy. Your body is making rapid adjustments to accommodate your baby, and that can leave you feeling worn out. Your brain may feel sapped of energy. You may find yourself sleeping more than usual, and taking naps can seem particularly appealing.

So which is it: Hormones or fatigue? Maybe it's both. And maybe you don't need a scientific explanation. You know how you feel, and other moms-to-be have felt it too.

How to cope with pregnancy brain

What you really need are some tips for coping. So here are some suggestions:

  • Make a list of the most important tasks for the day, and focus on those. Try to limit your list to the three or four most vital things to get done. Everything else can wait for another day.
  • If your list is too long, ask others to help you get it all done.
  • Keep a detailed calendar for events and appointments. Bonus tip: Having a notepad handy for to-do lists, reminders and phone numbers can help.
  • Get more sleep. Take a quick nap whenever you can, but make sleep a priority.
  • Keep keys and other important items in designated areas of your home so you can find them more easily.
  • Eat healthy meals and drink lots of water. Good nutrition feeds a sharp mind.

Want more pregnancy news?

Check out our tips for coping with morning sickness.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Psychological Association; March of Dimes

Reviewed 12/19/2023

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