Memory loss after childbirth, what's really in it

There are many topics that a woman is interested in before giving birth. Feeding, ways of giving birth, discomfort in the pregnancy, etc. Of course, there are also other issues that are heard and that lead to long searches for information, for example the loss of memory that women go through after childbirth. What is real about it?

This question has been answered by the University of Deakin, in Australia, through a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. An investigation that translates into a meta-analysis of 20 previous studies and that have tried to demonstrate that these memory losses in the pregnancy They are not a myth, but are based on an objective basis.


Changes in the brain

In this investigation the differences in the cognitive performance among 709 pregnant women and another 521 who had been mothers. The purpose was to check if there was a difference between the memory of a group. By pooling the data, it was determined that cognitive functioning, memory and executive capacity were poorer in pregnant women than in the rest. It differs that it became particularly evident during the third quarter.

The researchers linked these results with the reduction of gray matter during pregnancy appreciated in other jobs. This change in the brain of the mother would be the cause of this loss of memory during pregnancy. However, other research such as the one carried out by Brigham Young University indicates that this postpartum amnesia is due to a "confirmation bias".


"Although there are variations in the results, most of the studies suggest that there are hardly any memory losses associated with pregnancy," he says. Michael Larson, one of the authors of this investigation.

Synaptic pruning

This is not the first study that talks about the changes in the brain of the pregnant woman. A group of researchers of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Mar Institute of Medical Research has found that women experience more changes during pregnancy. Specifically, their brain structure is modified to adapt to motherhood and the challenges that this entails.

This process is defined as synaptic pruning. Although a priori it may seem that the reduction of gray matter is bad, it is a habitual process in the growth of people and that occurs in other stages such as adolescence. These changes respond to an evolution of the brain that eliminates those connections weaker and that can hinder some activities in adults.


Eliminating weak connections in the brain increases the capacity of concentration. "The results suggest that this brain plasticity inherent to pregnancy has an evolutionary purpose for the mother to effectively inflate the needs of her baby," explains Erika Barba-Müller, one of the responsible for this research.

Damián Montero

Video: Why Pregnancy Makes You Forgetful... but Helps Your Baby


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