Pregnant Brain, Revealed
There’s no doubt that the concept of pregnancy is mind-blowing, even if it is the most natural thing in the world. It’s a reminder of the amazing capabilities of the human body. Like, you know, growing a human being inside of it.
So what happens psychologically during pregnancy? We dove into a new article from Quartz that explores the mental quirks that many pregnant women experience, helping us understand the science behind it all.
Women tend to be clumsier or more accident-prone when they’re pregnant. This is actually due to a hormone called relaxin, which is triggered when pregnancy begins. As the name suggests, its purpose is to relax the body and prepare it for expansion. Unfortunately, it can manifest itself in the muscles of your hands and fingers. This explains why there are more keys dropped and glasses being knocked over when someone in the house is carrying.
Cravings are probably the most well-known of all the mental shifts that come with pregnancy. Although they haven’t been widely studied, 60% of women report experiencing cravings. The belief is that cravings, particularly for salty foods, indicates dehydration, nutrient deficiency, or a chemical imbalance.
We can attribute cravings and clumsiness to a couple of specific changes, but mood swings are a bit more complicated. In the first trimester, estrogen and progesterone levels can rise to three times higher than the peak during a normal menstrual cycle. These two specific hormones impact the brain where serotonin and dopamine levels are regulated. The result is an unpredictable mood as the brain learns to assimilate.
Mood swings can also be the result of other stressors that come pregnancy like pain, fatigue, and the anticipation of parenthood.
While science helps us explain some of the mental shifts that occur during pregnancy, there is still a lot to learn about the ways in which women’s bodies and brains respond. Either way, there’s no denying that all of it is absolutely fascinating.
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