Tag Archives: Menopause

Pregnancy Brain Is A Real Thing*

This is her brain. This is her brain on pregnancy.

When we were pregnant (and, if you’ve read that nearly-a-bestselling-book A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook, you’ll know it’s a two-person event, pregnancy), we liked to refer to it as PIS, or pregnancy-induced senility.

That way, she could say she PISed off and we could laugh when she locked her keys inside the car in line at the car wash and I had to leave work to come rescue her because she was crying and upset. It was that or start screaming my own self and that would have been a bad idea.

Hell might have no fury like a woman scorned, but even they run in fear of pregnant women. And it’s not simply because of the wacky hormones running amok in their bloodstream. But that is a post for another day.A woman's brain really does change during pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure that would be a bad thing to mention to an actual pregnant woman. Because pregnancy also does wacky things to their emotional lability.

What my wife, known to me as She Who Must, While Pregnant, Be Getting What She Wants So That I Might Be Allowed To Continue My Miserable Existence, and I called PIS also is known as pregnancy brain. There are those who say it is a myth.

They are, according to science, very much wrong. Pregnancy brain is real. However, it’s more than merely pregnant women forgetting stuff.

“Pregnancy brain” definitely exists, but it may not be as negative as you think. In fact, it can make you more perceptive of other people’s emotions, according to new research presented at British Psychological Society Annual Conference in the U.K. 

Pregnant women were more sensitive to facial emotion in all of the pictures, which could mean that the right hemisphere of their brains (the one usually responsible for recognizing visual emotion) was more active in them than in new moms, meaning they could process emotion from all angles. This might be the body’s way of preparing a soon-to-be mom to be more responsive to a baby once it’s born.

But, I hear you calling**, dude! That has nothing to do with putting a box of cereal away in the fridge. True, but this does.

One meta-analysis of 14 studies in 2007 found some evidence of memory impairments in pregnant women, though the findings weren’t totally consistent. Another 2010 study says that hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your memory of spatial locations, but the research only looked at less than 50 women. 

All of which goes to show that, while pregnancy does make some demonstrable physical changes to a woman’s brain, we can’t say with certainty that it’s what causes her to forget stuff, to lose stuff, to become absent minded, to get mixed up with simple directions or any of that stuff.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say, even with conclusive scientific evidence to back you up, it’s probably a good idea to not mention any of the negative stuff that might have something to do with pregnancy brain.

If you’re not able to simply turn and run (which, oddly, seems to be my most frequently offered bit of advice for dudes dealing with pregnant women), I think your best bet would be to say that, yes, pregnancy does change a woman’s brain.

But it’s for the good. Pregnant brains are actually changing so moms-to-be can better bond with the little dude or little dudette.

Then turn and run.

Footnotes & Errata

* But don’t think that gets you off the hook for even considering the possibility of maybe mentioning it. Sort of like saying the word menopause when talking to ladies of a certain age. Not a good idea.

** But I’d better not hear you call me Beth. (Wow, that was an obscure and very old joke.)

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Before We Begin. . .

So while we’re getting ready to get serious, I thought I’d check back in with Barry before we start the seriousness in a serious manner for serious people. Or something like that.

Barry? Over to you, Barry.

. . .

Barry?

. . .

What’s going on? Does anyone know what’s going on with Barry? Barry?

–ody well fix this thing before I come over there and stomp on your.  . . er. . . um. . . well.

Yes.

I can see we’re all better now. Thanks for handing back the mic, Richard. I appreciate it. I wanted to drop by and let you know about a horrific new threat we’ve been experiencing over at my house. It’s a little thing I like to call Manopause.

And, no, it’s not me going through this.

My 13-year-old son has begun suffering from a horrific disease that can, after extensive research and untold hours of imaginative leaps and counterintuitive logical progressions, be called accelerated menopause, rule 63 variant.

Yes, that’s right. He’s a teenage boy, suffering from a syndrome most notably known for affecting women in their 50s and signaling, among other things, the end of their childbearing years.

Now, I understand that you dudes might be a bit hesitant to accept this diagnosis for the reasons outlined above. I understand that. However, let me run through a couple of the symptoms and you tell me what you’re reading about. Fair enough?

My son is burning hot and sweaty and then, one second later he’s cold as ice and demanding a sweater. He might walk into a room whistling and feeling like he’s on top of the world, but within the five steps it takes to cross the room, he’ll sink into the most red-tinted rage imaginable. He’ll be playing nicely with his younger sisters until he snaps and begins berating them and searching for dolls so he can snap their heads off.

I do not mean any of these in a metaphorical fashion. Dude is suffering.

And it hurts me to watch it. I feel for the pain he’s going through, not having a handle on his emotions, feeling like his body is having a party and he’s going to have to pick up the bill. It’s inconceivable that he’s going through this.

Although, now that I think of it, I do not think that word means what I think it means. And I–

What?

No, really?

Huh. Well.

Ah, so it seems, if my wife the pediatrician is to be believed, that what the little dude is going through is perfectly normal for boys his age. Apparently it’s not Manopause, which would be a totally new syndrome that would need somebody to get out ahead of it and be the face of Manopause prevention and be on talk shows and sign lucrative endorsement deals and be invited to red-carpet movie premiers. It’s apparently puberty, which everybody knows about and goes through. And certainly doesn’t need someone going around warning people about it. Which is no fun at all.

Well, poo.

Even worse, if this is puberty and my oldest little dude is, indeed, going through it, that means this isn’t a one-time deal and I’ve got to face one more little dude and two little dudettes going through it.

Oh. Oh, my.

I need a vacation. 

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