The phrase "momma brain" now has a fascinating new twist. In the latter part of pregnancy, expecting mothers can actually grow new brain tissue. Specific areas of the brain that are associated with "motivation, reward, and the regulation of emotion" physically become larger.
Although the new study reported by Live Science is small at only 19 mothers, the growth shows clearly when they received magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans not long after the births of their children. Although the findings are unusual and intriguing, they're only the very beginning of what may become a popular area of research. The big questions, however, remain unanswered. What is causing the brain growth? And more importantly, what are mothers doing with their extra brains? We don't know.
However, part of what makes the research so interesting is that the areas of the brain that are affected: "The prefrontal cortex (associated with reasoning and judgment), the parietal lobe (associated with sensory perception) and a number of areas within the midbrain." These areas are associated with "higher cognitive functions." The research naturally brings up speculation that the new growth may be found to relate to how mothers relate to their new child. In other words, the new brains may be newly created thinking/feeling centers that enable mothers to excel through the mental and emotional challenges of being a new mom.
There's a common joke about "momma brain" meaning foggy or spaced out, but what may actually be happening is that new moms are experiencing a profound physical and mental change inside their heads as they gear up to be all that they can be for their child. Have you felt any strong changes in how you think and feel as a new mom?
Pregnancy Food Tip:
Growing new brains and new little bodies requires good nutrition for pregnant moms. Here's a great overview
of different healthy pregnancy foods by the Mayo Clinic.
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