For anyone who has experienced it, “pregnancy brain” is a no-brainer: it’s real – or at least it feels real. The combination of stress (on all sorts of levels), interrupted sleep, all those continual physical and hormonal changes, and an inevitable inward focus make it look like you’re experiencing a slightly reduced cognitive competence.
But if Einstein had ever been pregnant even he would have found it difficult to be at his best 24/7 as well. Pregnancy brain may not describe an actual neural nosedive, but there is no doubt that being pregnant is massively distracting. Coping with everything that your body throws at you can make it look like you’re not quite as switched on as you might be, but that doesn’t mean you have to believe the hype.
Don’t believe the hype
There’s been a fair amount of talk recently about how brain training games aren’t all that they pretend – or at least they can’t do all the mind-expanding, intelligence boosting things that the marketing blurb would have you believe. They undoubtedly have their place – in the same way that crosswords and Sudoku do – but they’re certainly not the answer to the sense of self-doubt and a diminished performance that pregnancy can bring with it. Brain training is deliberately targeted at women. When it comes down to it they’re more about boosting confidence than cognition.
Thinking for yourself
It’s worth remembering that brain training is a multi-million dollar industry with its own research claims and its own measures of a person’s abilities. What that means is that for every claim that brain training doesn’t do that much for you, there are plenty of contrary (often sponsored) articles suggesting precisely the opposite. It’s difficult enough for scientists to come to any sort of a meaningful conclusion – never mind those of us who’ve had to get up for a pee four times during the course of the night.
If you do want to play some sort of a thinking game to while away the hours – either in the middle of another wakeful night or during the wait for yet another appointment – then it’s probably best to do something that’s a little more competitive than just going over your own memory scores. It’s too easy to zone out when it’s just you and the bump.
Now competition isn’t everyone’s favorite word, but this isn’t competition for the sake of it; it’s competition for the sake of keeping you in the zone. It’s that flaky focus that gets pregnancy brain a bad name. Nobody’s brain shrinks, and nobody loses anything in the way of intelligence. Measuring yourself against other people when you’re properly concentrating is a great way to prove that to yourself.
The trick is to find something that’s meaningful enough to force you to concentrate – signing up to a free online casino (e.g. at the female-friendly Full Tilt site) or a some other sort of communal competitive thinking game where you get to play against real people (and where you have the option of playing for real returns) does everything you need to prove to yourself that the old grey matter is still ticking over. Something like blackjack is perfect because it is fundamentally a test of skill and mental ability. Like poker (also available at Full Tilt), blackjack is a lot more female-oriented than you might imagine, and there are plenty of women joining in on the action.
You’ll find that there are times when you’re tired, or stressed or distracted when you don’t do so well. But you’ll also find that when you’re on song, you’re as sharp as you ever were. Pregnancy brain is a name that people give to the general condition of being overloaded with the sort of hormonal, psychological and physical distractions that would knock anybody’s confidence. Anything you can do to boost yours is worth doing – and if it puts you in touch with other people so much the better. Brain training is all well and good, but your pregnancy is most certainly not the time for mental navel gazing. When it comes to your flaky performance just put pregnancy brain in its place. Don’t believe the hype.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
As I started to work as a movement therapist later in life, it helped me to accept the limitations of my body but also to discover new possibilities, both physically and mentally. I now see myself as a whole rather than a sum of body parts connected to a brain!
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
It’s like I just said, instead of focusing on the small body parts I don’t like – my ankles for example – I have learnt that they’re wonderful instruments which make me walk! I am more flexible: Instead of thinking “I can never do that”, now I think “I’m not ready yet”. It helps immensely.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
It might sound silly but I learnt to swim! I was always afraid of water after a bad childhood experience. After I found a wonderful swimming teacher, I could let me fears go and enjoy the water for the first time! I have so many goals and dreams…. but they are always evolving. The next goal is to take a course on homeopathy.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
Oh, too many to tell! The biggest may be procrastination and poor decision making… That’s why playing games like poker is a good thing for me, as you have to make quick decisions!
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?
I Love My baking! I love putting a smile on my children’s faces when they come back from school and smell the chocolate cake which just came out of the oven.