We’ve all heard of the term ‘baby brain’, and the tendency it implies for motherhood to undermine a woman’s focus, concentration and memory recall.
What is talked about less often, though, is how becoming a mum can actually maximise your brainpower.
It has been scientifically proven that various changes occur in the brains of mothers to warrant some fairly significant advantages, some in anticipation of the high workload of caring for a child, and more as a result of it. During pregnancy, one scientist compared the ‘prepping’ that takes place at a cellular level as akin to the revving of a car engine before it sets off on a journey. The effect that this has, apparently, is that it makes mothers more adept at learning, forward planning (prospective memory), recognising emotions and dealing with stress inducing situations.
Once the baby arrives, these efficiency and emotional intelligence skills are further exercised and deepened, which means that far from turning our brains to mush, motherhood can actually make women SMARTER and more resilient.
The habit we all have of focusing on our clumsy moments, and often using them as social fodder, whilst simultaneously overlooking and not mentioning all the amazing feats of multitasking we’ve succeeded at, is a symptom of something called ‘stereotype threat.’ This is where if you think motherhood is making you forgetful or less intelligent, it almost becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.
We spoke to Ellie Harris about her thoughts on this theory:
‘Baby brain is often looked upon as a negative side effect of becoming a parent. Personally, I like to challenge a stereotype! If I told you I thought of it as a positive, and undoubtedly one of the best things to come out of having kids, you’d probably laugh at me, and I don’t mean just because you can blame losing your phone for the 5th time in a day on it. However I’ll admit, that’s very handy!
From the moment you fall pregnant, it’s not just you that you need to think about. You become an organisational machine! You’re planning midwife appointments, methodically ticking off weeks and milestones and meticulously sorting your to-do list to within an inch of its life, all whilst still running your pre-pregnancy life. And then you move into the early weeks, months, years of motherhood. You transition from a singular to a multiple almost overnight, and society expects you to nail it from day one.
Well, as we know; there’s no such thing as a perfect motherhood gig (man I wish there was!) but we smash it in our own individual way. We keep teeny humans alive whilst managing to do the same to ourselves (FYI this doesn’t include showering or washing hair - Seriously, who gets time for that?!), We adapt and become queen jugglers, master multitaskers, complete and utter legends; Just think how much you can get done in a power hour whilst the baby sleeps, not to mention learning how much you can do with just one hand. Incredible isn’t it?! How would all of this not give you a much needed and well-deserved confident boost? This efficient assertiveness that we never knew was inside us just pops out of nowehre, but all too often we overlook it or label it as just getting stuff done, doing our job.
Now I know, some days are far easier than others – and that’s ok. But on those good days, the days when you’re winging it in spectacular fashion and you’re feeling like you’ve got this (insert virtual fist bump), just give yourself a little pat on the back and whisper a little thank you to that baby brain, because I’m sure anybody from the outside looking in will only see a confident, sassy (just the right amount of course!), assertive and down right incredible Mumma just doing her thing!'