When my sister-in-law was pregnant, she locked herself out of the house at least five times. She would leave to get in her car or grab the mail only to realize that her entire keychain was sitting right where she left them on the coat hook inside. Of course, since she was pregnant, someone always had to come to her rescue because none of us wanted her to be waiting outside the house for hours on end until someone else came home. “Pregnancy brain” is common among pregnant women, and many describe it as a fog that clouds their memory that is otherwise sharp as a tack. However, one recent study shows that this temporary lag in memory might actually be paving the way for increased brainpower.

In the study, women’s brains were monitored before, during, and after pregnancy. The results showed that women who had “pregnancy brain” often had better memory postpartum, and they felt sharper and quicker than before they got pregnant. From a biological standpoint, this makes sense. Women need to be at the top of their game to care for a needy infant and then a mischievous child. The research suggests that the fogginess many women feel when their baby is developing might actually be their brain changing to become stronger and better at storing memories.

Your body will go through countless changes during your pregnancy, so changes in your brain are just a few of many. However, this is an important change. Though it might be frustrating to constantly forget where you last saw the remote or be completely incapable of remembering which restaurant you were supposed to meet the girls at, keep in mind that the fogginess will fade and could even lead to better brain function.

If you have a smart phone, it can serve as your surrogate memory until that better brain function gets underway. Try writing down everything you might forget in a memo or send emails to yourself when there is something you desperately need to remember. Even a notepad will do for now. You should also let your family members know that you’ve been a little forgetful so they won’t be surprised when they get that 9:00am call from you that you left your keys in the house. Knowing the fogginess will fade might help you cope and laugh it off until you finally feel back to normal.

Source: Laura Glynn: Giving Birth to a New Brain: Hormone Exposures of Pregnancy Influence Human Memory. Psychoneuroendocrinology Volume 35 Issue 8 pp. 1148-1155 September 2011