The good news? You might experience a bump in brain power when you're with child. The bad news? You can't blame your little slip-ups on baby brain.
Pregnant women can expect to do a few strange things during those nine months—eating crazy food combinations, crying at the drop of a hat, obsessively Googling even the most mundane "symptoms". But according New Scientist, that forgetfulness and absentmindedness we commonly associate with pregnancy hormones might be misunderstood. In fact, having a baby may actually make women smarter.
Now, New Scientist does acknowledge that pregnancy can mess with a woman's cognitive ability. In fact, a survey found that four-fifths of women experience problems with stringing together complex sentences and remembering phone numbers (which might have a little bit to do with the fact that we depend way too much on cell phones these days, TBH). But Katherine Tombeau Cost, a researcher at the University of Toronto, noticed that her graduate school grades were as stellar as ever, despite the fact the fact that she was pregnant while enrolled. In light of this, she sought out more information...and found no objective evidence of cognitive impairment in pregnant women.
Craig Kinsley, a University of Richmond psychologist, made a keen observation about his wife's state of mind after giving birth. "I noticed my wife becoming much more efficient and able to do everything she did before, plus take care of a new baby. I put these ideas into the lab and started testing them and it was just like finding a gold mine," he told Quartz. He tested this observation on rats afterwards and they exhibited greater foraging abilities after giving birth.
Granted, humans might not forage, but there is the art of maintaining other aspects of your life after giving birth. Cost tested Kinsley's findings on humans and while she didn't find evidence to suggest that women lose cognitive abilities postpartum, she also didn't see anything to indicate it an improvement either.
There's no conclusive answer as to what happens to a woman's brain while she's pregnant and after she gives birth—but give yourself a little bit of credit. Raising a human calls for superhuman abilities—both cognitive and otherwise. To that point, Cost says: "You're about to do some very demanding work so the idea of 'baby brain,' and that the mother would become impaired, doesn't make much sense."