Tag Archives: Pregnant Women

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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Touchy Feely

What is it about pregnant women that makes most of us feel like we have the right to just come up to them and start rubbing on their bellies?

No, seriously.

I saw something like that the other day and it got me started thinking about it. I was in the library when a very, very pregnant woman came inside near where I was sitting. She greeted another woman, but you could tell from their stances that they weren’t actually close friends. There was a definite, visible reserve there.

The non-pregnant woman then pulled her youngish dude (maybe six or seven years old) over to them and just thrust his hand onto the pregnant lady’s belly. She was shocked. Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open a bit, but the non-pregnant mom and her son were completely oblivious to the pregnant woman’s distress. They then said good-bye and moved on.

The pregnant woman just stood there for a little while before shaking her head and moving on.

From experience, being around a pregnant woman for a long, long time on three separate occasions, I’ve seen this happen again and again. People would walk up to She Who Must Be Given Her Space and, with the barest of pauses to get any kind of permission, start fondling her belly.

Is a pregnant woman’s belly community property or something?

I really don’t think so. But there’s something in our culture that says pregnant women get to endure this unique form of annoyance.

I know it’s a wonderful thing, a wanted pregnancy that’s going to produce a wanted, loved child. Many pregnant woman do have almost a glow about them from their healthy bodies and their excitement about the growing life (when they’re not suffering from hemorrhoids or swollen ankles) and most people do want to share in that kind of joy. It makes us feel good.

But, seriously, dudes and (mostly) dudettes. Don’t just automatically assume that a pregnant woman wants you to feel up her belly, just because she’s showing. And if you just can’t help yourself, ask for permission first and actually — I know this is a bit out there, but go with me here on this one — wait for permission before you get all touchy feely.

I know I’m not talking to the dudes out there all that much on this one, because we’ve been pretty much conditioned against just randomly touching people we meet in the street. Still, I’d like to see a little thought here, folks. It actually is her pregnancy, not ours.

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Giving Away Cool Information And Even Cooler Prizes

You can’t have a baby without having a pregnancy at least somewhere along the line. It might not be in the immediate family, but somewhere, somehow, there is a woman who is carrying the little dude about to enter your life.

Back in the dark ages when my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Handled With Extreme Delicacy, and I were pregnant with our first son, there wasn’t nearly the type of information, support or ability to understand what was going on with our growing, gestating spawn.

We had to read a very, very long book, and rely on a certain someone’s medical school training, to know what was going on with the little dude as he was growing. Heck, we didn’t even know if he was a little dude or a little dudette. Although we can’t blame that one on primitive technology as I didn’t want to know until the delivery.

Good thing we’ve moved out of those dark ages. These days, there’s a slab of the future we carry around in our purses or pockets. Sure we could go all out to start looking up stuff about pregnancy and when certain milestones occur, all that stuff. Or you could drive yourself crazy wondering if that cough is the symptom of some horrible disease pregnant women can get and it’s just waiting to pounce.

Or you could get smart. Not the TV show.

Earlier this week, I talked with someone who knows a little bit about offering pregnant couples a way to lessen the anxiety, while also upping the emotional connection between them and the gestating spawn.

Dr. Hansa Bhargava is the lead pediatrician for the WebMD online medical group.  She oversees the team of medical experts responsible for ensuring the accuracy, credibility, and timeliness of all content on WebMD FIT and Raising FIT Kids, and she blogs for these sites as well.

And the good folks at WebMD have a fantastic new iPhone app that you can download for free that tells you just about everything you need to know, all in one place, about being pregnant or dealing with someone who is.

“I’m very excited about it because I really feel like this app gives you not only the information you might want, but all the information a mom might need, all in one place,” she said.

Before the technos at WebMD started putting the app together, Bhargava said, the company surveyed more than 800 women and found that the number one thing they wanted was that the information about pregnancy needed to be mobile, that it needed to be as wrapped together as much as possible. In short, they wanted a doc in a phone.

“This app really delivers on those two counts as well as many others,” she said. “It’s trusted information. You know it’s doctor approved. It’s personalized so it can serve up information you might not know you need, depending on what week you are in your pregnancy.”

Okay, dudes. I’ve got a lot more good stuff to give you with Dr. Bhargava, but I’m going to have to ask you to come back for that tomorrow. For now, we’re at that point in the post when I give you stuff.

Gift Bag

The fine folks at WebMD have sent me a whole bunch of stuff and they want me to give it to one of you lucky readers. This is some prime baby stuff. There’s swaddling blankets:  SwaddleDesign Ultimate Receiving Blanket, a digital thermometer:  Vick’s Baby Rectal Thermometer, towel & washcloth:  Aden & Anais La Mer Towel & Washcloth, the most recent issue of the WebMD magazine, and more stuff from WebMD on pregnancy.

This, my friends, is a good deal. And, to win this lovely prize, along with a special treat direct from the heart of aDudesGuide.com, can be yours. All you have to do is send me an e-mail detailing — in 100 words or less — what you said when you first learned you were going to be a parent. On purpose. I’ll pick out a winner randomly and send along the goodies — and the special, secret treat from Barry and me, Richard. You need to get the e-mail to me no later than midnight March 27. That gives you dudes a good week to get working.

Back tomorrow with more from the good doctor and more on the giveaway.

 

 

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