Mommy brain … it’s back?!

In my world, ‘mommy brain’ (forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and even feeling depressed) is a real phenomenon. I read a article in Time Magazine quoting a book written about ‘Mommy Brain’ which said that in neurological tests, women actually got smarter as a result of pregnancy and becoming a new parent and that mommy brain wasn’t a real issue. I can see where they are coming from in a way, the neuroscientists found in the brains of pregnant rats, new neuron arms (dendrites and dendritic spines) which would indicate increased mental capacity. (I wonder though how they measured the rat’s ability to multi task at a whole new level as a new mom does!) However, I believe that this is one of those times when anecdotal evidence outweighs science.

After meeting as many new moms each week, as I do, they are all suffering in a similar way. Keys… where are they? Ok got them, now where’s my bag? Didn’t I just put extra diapers in there? Oh and now I’ve forgotten the extra bib and my snack… this list goes on and on.

I believe that it negatively affects self-confidence, and relationships with friends and partners. If you don’t feel good about yourself, by doubting your capability to stay on top of what life demands, how are you going to feel as a parent? I’ve met many women who have successful careers, have managed teams of people or even run a large company — and now that she’s had a baby, her brain feels like it’s turned to mush.

I thought that I was out of the woods with this one, but boy was I wrong. I’m not a new parent, my kids are six and four years old. They go to different schools, have different schedules that I need to keep up with. I run my own business, which brings it’s own organization challenges and have recently launched my first book. It’s been busy around Sprout Right headquarters of late. And what happened in the midst of all this? My brain reverted back to those newborn days. I felt just as I did as a new mom – I couldn’t remember things (and didn’t remember that I had forgotten something for a week or two) and it was like things just vanished from my brain. It was brutal. I’d write a list of what I had to do and then forget that I’d written it, or couldn’t find where I’d put it. One part of me was oblivious to my forgetfulness and the other was really worried. I thought I’d fried my brain with trying to do and remember too much, while living on less sleep (just to top it all off!).

So before taking myself off to the doc’s to ask for an MRI of my brain, I treated myself like I’d treat a new mom in one of my classes or consultations… recommend for her to take DHA from fish oil. I hadn’t been having my smoothie in the morning so taking my DHA daily had gone by the wayside as that’s where I hide it (I’ve never been good at taking oil off a spoon). So I got out my cod liver oil and started adding a good two tbsp to my smoothie every morning. And wow, what a difference. Within two days, it was like someone turned the light back on in my brain. Later in the week, I started to remember much of what I’d completely forgotten (and started the long list of apologies to anyone else who this had affected). After about four weeks, I slowed down my dose to about two teaspoons a day and was so thankful to have my memory back.

It was a worrying experience, but the positive outcome is to keep re-enforcing to everyone that I meet how important it is to eat oily fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring) or take a DHA supplement EVERY DAY. This is not only a phenomenon of new moms, but of kids — especially those suffering with learning difficulties, ADD, or ADHD. Anyone (including men) suffering with depression, poor concentration or memory, heart conditions, a lack of physical endurance and even joint pain.

So after reading this, think of someone you know who might be in need of some extra zip from taking a DHA supplement (or yourself), and share the situation with me by commenting below. I’m going to give away a bottle of Cod Liver oil (or capsules if you are like me) to someone in real need — adult or child. And then, in a few weeks, I’d like the winner to comment/share how they’re feeling after taking the oil. It’ll be our own little experiment.

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