Motherhood does a number on the brain—but it’s not all bad. Here are a few dips and spikes you can expect to see on your mama intelligence meter.
LOW: Partly cloudy
Pregnancy brain (commonly retitled “new-mom fog” after giving birth) is pretty legit. Sleep deprivation coupled with surges in hormone levels leads to lapses in memory and awareness. (What day is it again? And why are my shoes in the fridge?) Although some of the haziness might stick around for the long haul, you’ll regain most of your sanity as your newbie grows and your body and sleep schedule regain some semblance of normalcy.
HIGH: Wise up
If you’ve cruised through life without putting too much thought into things like regular checkups with your doctor or what exactly constitutes a healthy diet, you’re about to gain some knowledge. Nine months of pregnancy will introduce you to the ins and outs of how to properly care for yourself and what your body and soul need for survival—and you’ll carry that knowledge into your care for your wee one as well.
LOW: Conversation piece
In the early days of motherhood, your brain might not be challenged in the ways you’re used to. You probably won’t be conversing much about your favorite author’s prose or the probability of life on other planets. Many, if not most, of your conversations will center around your little one’s digestion. (On the plus side, you’re learning everything there is to know about the inner workings of one’s gastrointestinal tract.)
HIGH: Instinct overdrive
Fun fact: The amygdala, the almond-shaped set of neurons in the brain that’s responsible for driving emotional reactions like fear and anxiety, grows in a mother in the weeks and months after giving birth. The development makes you hypersensitive to your baby’s needs, so if you feel like she’s acting a little off or something isn’t quite right with that spit-up, you’re likely right. Truly, nobody is more in tune with your tot than you.
LOW: The takeover
As your infant becomes a toddler, she’ll begin to introduce you to things that you never really had a desire to get to know. Songs from Disney movies will fill your head and your car, and you might find yourself absentmindedly watching “Paw Patrol” while folding laundry, only to realize that the child who loves the show is napping soundly in her bed. (Oh, how we miss you, NPR and grownup TV.)
HIGH: Done deal
Mothers are the masters of multitasking, and we can accomplish more in an hour (the length of a typical naptime) than the average adult can in an entire afternoon. Days will fly by, and you’ll go in a minute from feeding schedules to preschool applications to field trip forms. But whatever is thrown at you, you’ll tackle it head on. Ups and downs and all, our brains were made to mother.