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What’s going on with my brain during pregnancy?

pregnant woman smiling

Studies have revealed fascinating insights into the changes that occur in a woman’s brain during pregnancy. Each of these changes serves a specific purpose and contributes to the amazing journey of motherhood. Let’s explore some of these findings:

  1. Structural changes: The brain undergoes a reduction in size, approximately 7%, which may be attributed to structural changes and the formation of new neuronal connections. Areas associated with affection are activated, while those linked to judgment are deactivated. Furthermore, gray matter loss occurs in specific regions of a new mother’s brain. Interestingly, researchers have observed that women who experience greater gray matter loss in these areas also report stronger feelings of attachment to their infants.
  2. Absent-mindedness: Many pregnant women may feel more absent-minded during pregnancy. However, studies indicate that maternity actually stimulates intelligence, leading to positive changes. This absent-mindedness is often a result of the expectant mother paying heightened attention to her actions, allowing her to detect when she momentarily loses focus.
  3. Hormonal changes: Pregnancy brings about noticeable hormonal shifts. The increase in the hormone progesterone reduces cortisol production, safeguarding the baby from the effects of maternal stress. Additionally, elevated levels of oxytocin promote the development of a bond of attachment and trust between the mother and the baby. Oxytocin levels rise during childbirth to alleviate pain and during breastfeeding to facilitate milk production.
  4. Heightened alertness and senses: Mothers experience heightened alertness and enhanced senses, particularly in smell and hearing, during and after pregnancy. This enables mothers to distinguish their baby’s crying from others and be attuned to their baby’s needs and potential dangers.

Each of these changes in the brain will equip you with the ability to raise and care for your baby. The attachment and connection between you and your baby begins during pregnancy and deepens when the baby is born and as they grow. It’s truly remarkable how these brain changes support the journey of motherhood. Embrace the wonders of these changes and cherish the special bond you’re developing with your baby! The transformations in your brain are preparing you to be an attentive and nurturing mother. Enjoy this remarkable journey and take pride in the amazing changes happening within you.

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