The Mommy Brain: Is It Real or Not?
The journey to motherhood means accepting changes in every aspect of life - especially in the mother-to-be's body. An example of this change is the ever-popular "Mommy Brain". Understand what it means and how you and your partner could work together as you venture into parenthood.
Being a mother is life-changing, and that might even be true physiologically. According to research, motherhood can affect a woman’s brain. In this article, we will zero-in on “the mommy brain” phenomenon for you and your partner to better understand all these monumental changes.
Does pregnancy and motherhood affect a woman’s brain? “Yes,” says Lisa Galea, a professor of psychology and director of the graduate program in neuroscience for The Women’s Health Research Institute at the University of British Columbia.
And that’s a good thing, she says. The changes in a woman’s brain during pregnancy eases her transition to motherhood by prepping her mind for bonding and vital maternal behavior.
It is amazing how nature has its way of protecting newborn babies who are totally dependent on their mothers. The change in a mother’s brain triggers feelings of attachment towards her newborn. The increase in size of the midbrain is also thought to be linked to maternal motivation, which makes mothers feel and believe that their baby is special, beautiful, and ideal.
Some husbands may have difficulty understanding the sudden shift towards the newborn, and may end up feeling neglected. It helps to be aware of nature’s way of making the mother more sensitive to your baby’s needs. Husbands, do not take it personally – go and help your wife with the newborn! Volunteer to burp the baby after breastfeeding, change the diapers, or help put baby to sleep. Communicate and find out if your ways of caring for the child are meeting her expectations. A mother’s hormones also makes her more protective of the baby from external threats. It would be best to discuss how you want to take care of your baby as a unit. Invite her out for an afternoon snack or dinner while baby stays with her mom or your mom, as she may be more comfortable leaving baby behind with people she can trust. This way, your wife can take a break, and you’ll be able to set more time to nurture your marriage.
“During pregnancy, a mother’s brain is primed for attachment — lucky for the baby!”
Remember that crazy love you felt for your newborn? Yes, it was partly because he or she was the most amazing creature ever born — but it was also your body’s dramatic increase in oxytocin, prolactin and progesterone prodding your brain to adapt.
“Mommy brain” may be responsible for emotional breakdowns, forgetfulness, mood swings and even postpartum depression, yet, these hormonal changes also increases the mother’s estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin that make the brain susceptible to reshaping or responding to the baby’s needs.
Know that you may be experiencing an emotional roller coaster ride after giving birth. But hey, it’s not all that bad – it’s normal and also beneficial. The new experience and role may be overwhelming and challenging. Remember to have a good support system, and take care of yourself. Keep in mind that this mommy brain is also helping you become a more responsive and proactive parent!
Psychology Today and American Psychological Association.
About The Expert
MA. ISABEL SISON DIONISIO, MA, Family, Relationship & Marriage Expert
Maribel, a Relationship and Parenting Consultant for over 25 years has co-authored books, like “Helping our Children do Well in School, Growing up Wired” and “I’ve been Dating…now what?”. She was a contributor and the Parenting Expert of Wyeth’s Nurture Network from 2010 to 2018. Maribel is a regular Parenting Expert for various TV and radio programs, like Radyo Singko’s Relasyon and ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda. Maribel served as a Judge for the Jollibee Family Values Award.
In 2008, she set-up AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples. She worked at the Center for Family Ministries and trained as an Imago Therapist of the Imago Relationships International, New York. Maribel and husband, Allan, are both graduates of the Family Ministry course, Ateneo de Manila. They prepare couples for marriage in the Discovery Weekend and are columnists for the Feast Magazine. They have co-authored two relationship books, Thinking of Marriage and Teen Crush. Allan and Maribel, happily married for 36 years, have 3 children, Rafael, David, and Angelica.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.