The Science Behind "Mom Brain"

Our intake specialist, Elizabeth, and I laugh about this often. She had been working for Cy-Hope for just a short while, and I come to her in a panic! I shout to her, “Elizabeth, I lost a chart! I was just holding it!!!” 30 minutes later we found it in the spot we least expected it. At the time, I was pregnant and trying to handle the exhaustion of pregnancy, a full time job, and a very energetic toddler at home. Pregnancy brain had definitely hit me. Recently, science has proved that “pregnancy brain” and “mom brain” are real phenomena! Studies reveal that women’s brains actually shrink in certain areas while pregnant and remain that way for 2 years! Here’s what this really means:

During pregnancy, the volume of grey matter in expectant mother’s brains actually shrink. The areas impacted are areas that play a role in processing social signals and perspective taking.As a counselor, I immediately noticed what this study could mean for mental health. When a woman gives birth, her life changes immediately. It is a time that many new moms feel disconnected from their previous lives and anxious about where this adventure will lead. During this same time, the mother’s brain has changed in the areas of processing social signals and perspective taking. These areas can impact a new mom’s relationship in all areas, including marriage and friendships. Wow, that’s a lot for a new mother to handle!

What this study really means: When a friend has a new baby, expect your relationship to change because her life has just changed. If you are the husband of a new mother, realize that for a short while her number one priority might be on the new baby. Rest assured, that this is temporary. Instead of starting arguments, or getting jealous, try asking what you can do for support or finding new ways to connect. If you are a new mom, realize this difficult time will come to an end. However, if it feels like more than an adjustment, it might be time to ask for extra help. Please know that postpartum depression is common and can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, or socioeconomic status. In fact, postpartum depression happens to up to 16% of new mothers. When things feel like more than just a difficult adjustment, please reach out for help.

Written by: Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting