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?
Maternal instincts and hormones
"New mothers are... determined to keep [their baby] alive no matter what. That's their number one priority. Consequently less important matters get forgotten, or at least put into a less active area of the brain," Louann Brizendine explains.
Your hormones are equally to blame for your temporary postpartum memory loss. Your oestrogen levels peak in the weeks leading up to your pregnancy before plunging drastically after delivery, causing your seemingly consistent forgetfulness - even things like placing that carton of milk in the sink, rather than fridge, is normal!
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