If you know me personally, you know that I’m in the final weeks of pregnancy, and that I’m slightly over forty. When you combine those two factors with the dreariness of February, you’ve got a blogger who has barely enough energy to do the paid and required stuff – let alone the much-enjoyed blogging in addition.
So if you are subscribed here, or check in regularly, please be patient! If posts are sparse for the next while, it’ll be because I’ve got physical demands that are competing for my brainpower.
Of course, as someone interested in how people process information, I thought I’d surf a bit to see whether science has actually found proof of this fabled ‘pregnancy brain.’ True, the energy level has declined, and my recall of recent information and events has slipped; but what about the ability to absorb and process information (should my clients be worried)?
The abstracts of a couple studies I found seem to back up the fact that, really, ‘pregnancy brain’ is mostly, er, in our heads.
Appropriately titled Cognitive changes in pregnancy: mild decline or societal stereotype?, one study compared pregnant and non-pregnant women’s perceptions of cognitive change and their performance on 13 sensitive memory and attention tasks (Study 1) and two complex driving simulation tasks (Study 2). The pregnant women rated their cognitive abilities as worse than before, but only two performance measures from Study 1 differentiated the two groups (speed of language processing and attentional switching).
The biggest difference the study found was in the pregnant women’s perceptions of their own cognitive decline – and the perceptions of their male partners – while they were pregnant. The women themselves rated themselves the worst. So while the study did see mild cognitive decline, it is the belief in this decline that feeds the stereotype.
Another admittedly-limited study concluded that Memory performance, but not information processing speed, may be reduced during early pregnancy. While the authors say that more longitudinal (long-term) data are needed, this study observed only slight differences in memory performance.
Whatever the data say, I can tell you that my brain feels mushier than it did nine months ago. But apart from wanting to sleep more and not being able to back my car into the garage without wrenching off the side mirror, I have managed to keep working, caring for my young daughter, and managing household matters – with no notable casualties.
That said, I’m grateful in advance for your patience while I neglect this blog for awhile to care for a newborn.