What happened to my brain?! How our sanity changes after babies

Kinderling News & Features

Ever wondered what happened to your brain after kids came along? Lana Hallowes thinks she's uncovered some answers.

I've come to the conclusion that I can’t rely on my brain anymore. Unless I write appointments down and then actually LOOK at the calendar, I’m a no show. I need reminders. I need brain back up. 

But I wasn’t always like this. There was a time before I had my babies where I had a mental, ‘this is what you have to do this week’ run sheet in my mind, and it was all the reminding I needed.

Then I got pregnant. 

And five years on, it feels like my brain has slowed, right, down. Why? Because I’ve moved through the four stages of mummy brain. 

Here’s what they are. Do you think this could be happening to you, too? 

Stage one – preggy brain 

It all started when I got pregnant. When I’d forget where I was driving, why I’d opened the fridge door or struggled to find my words, I’d have a little chuckle, “ah pregnancy brain,” I’d laugh.

You see, I’d read that mumnesia is a ‘thing’, thanks to all those weird pregnancy hormones. And although knowing my brain was functioning differently upon growing a new life and also that my brain cells were decreasing in preparation for bonding with my baby, it gave me some hope that this was all just a temporary thing.

Then I had my baby. 

Stage two – newborn haze brain

I can’t actually even remember the newborn phase because it was all a mushy-blur, which is pretty much how my poor sleep-deprived brain must have felt.

The weeks after bringing my precious bundle home from hospital were a fog, but looking back, I think this is just as nature intended. I was too tired to do anything other than care for my baby. My brain had switched on its baby tunnel vision, and switched everything else off.  

Stage three – baby brain 

Then as the weeks turned into months and my baby started sleeping more, my brain had a chance to restart, but unlike my computer, it didn’t function better after a sleep. A bit better, but not much.

I still found myself doing silly things, like buckling my baby into the car seat and driving off without the pram, forgetting what day of the week it was or how to get the sentence, “Can I please have a decaf flat white with no sugar” out.

Stage four – mum brain

My boys are now aged four and two and as such, I can no longer claim ‘baby brain’ for my forgetfulness or scattyness.

I also can’t claim sleep deprivation like I used to. Although I’m certainly not getting as much sleep as I did pre-kids, there are some nights now where I do get my full quota of shut-eye, but even still, I don’t feel mentally sharp.

I still forget birthdays. I still leave my keys in the front door. I still forget my email password. 

Now I have mum brain and I’m starting to realise it’s not going away any time soon.

Power to the mum brain

But here’s the thing. I may not feel as on the ball as I used to, but my brain is working so much harder than it ever had to in the past.

My brain, like my heart, is no longer my own. My family have claimed it.

It’s working for four people. It’s not that it’s less efficient than it used to be, it’s just that it’s got more to process and more information to retain these days. It also tends to prioritise everyone else, too, so is it any wonder that I forget a doctor’s appointment for me but not my kids?

My brain isn’t failing me, but I do need to help it out. I think I’ll start using the calendar on my phone, just so I get a reminder ping to look at it. I really can’t miss yet another dinner with my mother’s group!

This article originally appeared on Babyology.