The Crazy Way Pregnancy Changes Your Brain

New research suggests pregnancy causes some pretty significant changes to a woman's brain—and these changes might actually help you become a better mom.

Pregnancy Brain
"Baby brain" isn't a myth—as it turns out, pregnancy really does bring about changes in your brain as well as your body...but these changes occur for an incredibly important—and really cool—reason. Recent research suggests that pregnancy brain changes that last even after those 40 weeks have come and gone. But this isn't a bad thing: The mental changes brought on by pregnancy might literally make you a better mom.

This study, which was published in Nature Neuroscience, seems to be one of the first to address pregnancy's effect on the brain. Researchers in Spain looked at MRI scans from women before and after their first pregnancies to reach this finding. They discovered that after giving birth the women had reduction in gray matter in the parts of the brain that regulate social interactions, and that these areas overlapped with brain regions that were activated when moms looked at photos of their babies. According to researchers, these changes last for about two years postpartum.

Don't fret: The loss of gray matter won't make any less intelligent or alert—the researchers didn't identify any loss of memory or thinking function associated with these changes. In fact, as we've previously reported, baby brain might even make you smarter.  "[These] changes concern brain areas associated with functions necessary to manage the challenges of motherhood," study co-lead author Erika Barba said, according to Health Day.

It's really an amazing thing, the way a mother's body changes to accommodate pregnancy—and that mental changes take place alongside the physical transformation. Consider it your body's way of turning you into the best possible mother you can be.