It starts with a tiny incident: your mother-in-law calls while you’re bouncing your newborn bundle of joy to sleep. You promise to call her back in ten minutes, but it slips your mind until the later part of the following day.
If this has happened to you, it may well be a classic example of a medical condition called mumnesia. Maternal amnesia that occurs during pregnancy and, subsequently, as postpartum memory loss after birth. While this triggers worry in many new mums, who fear its permanence, experts assure it’s absolutely normal and temporary.
A 2008 study conducted at Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) concluded postpartum memory loss can be attributed to four factors: the stress of constantly looking after your newborn baby, hormones, post-birth pain and fatigue.
Neuropsychiatrist, Louann Brizendine, who led the research team, says mumnesia happens because a mother’s top priority is the health and safety of her child. But what causes mumnesia, and is there a way to fix your postpartum memory loss?
Can you fix it?
Unfortunately, you can’t! Some experts disagree that mumnesia should be classified a medical condition, saying cultural expectations are what causes many women to blame forgetfulness on postpartum symptoms.
In a 2003 study at Sunderland University led by Dr. Ros Crawley, the lead researcher offered an alternative cause of postpartum memory loss, saying cultural expectations “make women more aware of forgetting things and attributing such mistakes to their pregnancy”.
The bright side
Like we mentioned before, mumnesia is temporary. And there is good news, if you're suffering from spells of memory loss: the only slips of memory involve lighter moments of absentmindedness, such as forgetting the time you last fed baby. And the situation will only last for a few months, tops! In fact, many women find they remember things better and can better handle multi-tasking than before pregnancy
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