Guest Post by Julia Jones, Newborn Mothers
A woman in my mothers group recently asked if anyone else felt really stupid since having babies. She said she is forgetful, emotionally sensitive and unable to concentrate on cognitive tasks - her husband even told her she used to be smarter than she is now!
And she’s not alone! Who else is nodding along?
Baby brain is not a myth, motherhood changes our brains, forever!
Throughout pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, oxytocin pushes mothers into their metaphorical ‘right brain’, a more intuitive and instinctive way of thinking and decision making. High oxytocin makes mothers more contemplative, companionable and dependent.
You feel more sensitive and forgetful.
You live in the moment.
The more masculine, ‘left brain’ approach is analytical, rational, independent and competitive.
And since we live a culture that values the masculine this approach has even infiltrated the way we mother. There have never been more books and research on motherhood. We are suffering from information overload, we can’t figure out babies and we aren’t enjoying ourselves.
This is because we are trying to solve a feminine problem with a masculine solution.
For example, as a postnatal doula I see women who want to breastfeed overloaded with task oriented, mathematical and rational solutions. Mothers are shown photos of correct attachment, given books full of conflicting information and shown videos of swallowing and sucking. They are told to go on special diets, weigh their baby, express milk at specific times of day, measures millilitres of milk and time feeds and count wet nappies...
It seems to me that the more we know about breastfeeding the harder it is to actually breastfeed.
What if we encourage mothers to transcend the expert and advice paradigm and find the answers deep inside themselves, using a more feminine approach?
Here’s the thing: activity in the neocortex lowers oxytocin. When your neocortex is quiet, you can find a more feminine way of approaching motherhood. You don’t look to an overload of information from an external source. You have tapped into the ancient wisdom within you.
I Call This Baby Brain
It is that sweet, gooey love when you gaze into your baby’s eyes. It’s forgetting where you put your car keys. It’s bursting into tears when you watch the news. Oxytocin gives you gooey, mushy feelings, so expect to feel foggy and forgetful.
So is baby brain a disadvantage?
In general our culture values more rational, clever and masculine ways of thinking, but baby brain is really valuable, particularly for mums.
Oxytocin bonds us with our babies and helps us breastfeed. Oxytocin gives us quicker and less painful births and more tolerance to monotony and boredom of motherhood. Some more of your new super powers include being more disciplined and more ambitious, increased endurance and a renewed sense of mission in life. The list goes on and on.
Embrace this new brain of yours. It has been rejuvenated and reprogrammed for peace and joy in motherhood.
Baby brain does exist, and it's superpower!
Julia Jones is a postnatal doula leading a worldwide renaissance in the way we care for Newborn Mothers. She has created a new paradigm for postpartum care by merging traditional medicine and culture with cutting edge research on hormones and neurology.
Julia is the author of Nourishing Newborn Mothers - Ayurvedic Recipes to Heal your Mind, Body and Soul after Childbirth and creator of worldwide leading education resource for postpartum professionals: Newborn Mothers Collective.