New research is busting the ‘Baby Brain’ myth that claims pregnancy and childbirth cause women’s brains to turn into mush. New research published by the American Psychological Association says that the grey matter of new mothers actually increases, rather than decreasing.
Coping with a newborn is a steep learning curve for all new mothers and to enable them to handle this additional new requirement, their brains were seen to ‘bulk up’, researchers found.
At the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, brain scans of 19 new mothers were taken and it was found that in the period following the birth, the grey matter in various parts of the brains of the women was seen to have increased significantly.
Usually such a significant change in grey matter of adults is not seen to change unless there has been an illness, injury, environmental change of significant new learning. This indicates that the hormone levels as well as the new needs of having to cope with a new baby led to an increase in the brain cells.
Several parts of the brain were seen to increase – the hypothalamus connected to motivation, the amygdala which is connected to reward and emotion processing, the parietal lobe which is connected to the senses, and the prefrontal cortex which controls reasoning and judgment.