When Beverly Smolyansky was pregnant with her daughter, Sophia, she found herself struggling to recall basic words like pillowcase. She'd also have trouble completing simple tasks, such as matching socks while folding the laundry. A typical case of pregnancy brain? Yes -- except Smolyanksy's brain is nowhere close to typical: She has a Ph.D. in psychology and is the clinical director for the division of behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, in Ohio, where she spends her days counseling kids.
Clearly, memory lapses can strike even the smartest women among us. "About 25 percent of my pregnant and post?partum patients mention feeling scattered; they'll walk into a room and forget what it is they came to get," says Melissa Dugan-Kim, M.D., clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. It's talked about in popular culture, but physicians are taught little about why or how often it happens, she notes.
Sometimes, moms-to-be are told they're imagining the problem. But even if pregnancy brain were considered a valid medical condition, people could hold it against women, particularly at work. So what should you do if you feel as if you're suddenly losing your mind? Take comfort in knowing you're not alone -- and remember this sanity-sparing advice.