Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
February 28, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

Do you feel like you can’t think clearly after giving birth? Are you struggling to keep up with your newborn and feeling exhausted all the time? You’re not alone.

Many women experience postpartum brain fog, a condition characterized by fatigue, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of postpartum fog, its symptoms, and how to treat it.

Let’s get started.

What exactly is postpartum fog?

Giving birth often causes a woman’s thinking to become cloudy, her memory to be affected, and her attention span to deteriorate. This is known as postpartum fog also known as the “mommy brain.”

It’s common for new mothers to feel exhausted and unable to think clearly after giving birth. This can be due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and postpartum.

In some cases, postpartum mental fog may be a sign of postpartum depression. And postpartum fog can last for weeks or even months after giving birth. 

If you’re struggling with postpartum brain fog, know that you’re not alone, and there are things you can do to feel better, which we will discuss further in this article.

What causes postpartum brain fog?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to postpartum mental fog, such as the following:

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep is a common cause of postpartum fog. When you’re exhausted, it isn’t easy to think clearly. Newborns often wake up several times throughout the night, which can leave you feeling sleep-deprived.

To help combat this, make sure to get as much rest as possible when your baby is sleeping. And if possible, have your partner or a family member take over nighttime feedings so you can get some uninterrupted sleep. 

Hormonal Changes

During pregnancy and postpartum, a woman’s hormones are in flux. This can cause fatigue, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.

The good news is that these mommy brain symptoms typically improve over time. However, if you’re experiencing postpartum mental fog along with other signs of postpartum depression, it’s essential to seek professional help.

Dehydration

It’s important to stay hydrated post-birth, as dehydration can contribute to postpartum fog. Drink plenty of fluids and eat foods that are high in water, such as fruits and vegetables. 

Stress

Stress can also contribute to postpartum mental fog. It’s challenging to focus on anything else when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

To reduce stress, try to take some time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress. You could read a book, take a bath, or meditate.

Physical Fatigue

Pregnancy and labor can be very tiring, and postpartum fatigue can persist for weeks or even months after giving birth. This is because a woman’s body is working hard to heal post-birth and adjust to the new demands of motherhood.

To help combat postpartum fatigue and the mental fog that comes with it, make sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. You could also try taking naps when your baby is sleeping or exercising to boost your energy levels.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Certain nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to postpartum fog. Make sure you’re getting enough omega-three fatty acids, iron, and B vitamins.

You could take a supplement or eat foods that are rich in these nutrients, such as salmon, leafy greens, and whole grains. 

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression can also cause postpartum mental fog. When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, it’s difficult to focus on anything else.

If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, please talk to your doctor or consult a mental health professional. There are treatments available that can help you feel better. 

Brain Fog Postpartum: Common Symptoms

The symptoms of postpartum fog can vary from woman to woman. However, some common mommy brain symptoms include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetting things
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms can worsen over time if postpartum fog is left untreated. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please talk to your doctor. 

Can postpartum mental fog be diagnosed? 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Postpartum mental fog can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms overlap with those of postpartum depression and anxiety.

If you’re experiencing postpartum fog, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They will likely ask you questions about your mood, energy levels, and ability to concentrate. 

Your doctor may also perform a physical exam to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation.

Treatment Options for Postpartum Fog

If you’re diagnosed with postpartum fog, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments to help you manage mommy brain symptoms:

Rest

When you’re feeling exhausted, it’s challenging to focus on anything else. Taking time for rest is essential for recovering from childbirth and dealing with postpartum mental fog.

Try to take a nap when your baby is sleeping or take a break from housework to relax for a few minutes.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet can help boost your energy levels and combat postpartum fatigue. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

You could also try taking a supplement to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.

Exercise

Exercising can help improve your mood and energy levels, which can, in turn, help reduce postpartum mental fog.

Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. If you’re struggling to find time for a workout, consider exercising while your baby is napping or taking a walk with your baby in the stroller.

Mental Health Treatment

If postpartum fog is caused by anxiety or depression, treatment from a mental health professional can be very helpful.

There are various types of therapy that can help improve your mood and ease postpartum mental fog, such as psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Medication, such as antidepressants may also be recommended in some cases. 

Please talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing postpartum mental fog. They can help you determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment options that are right for you.

Actionable Steps to Combat Postpartum Mental Fog

If you’re experiencing postpartum mental fog, there are a few things you can do to help you manage mommy brain symptoms:

Be Patient

It can take time to recover from childbirth and postpartum fog. Don’t expect yourself to be back to your old self overnight. 

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask your partner, family, or friends for help. It takes a village to raise a child, and you can’t do it all on your own.

Make Lots of Lists

Making lists can help you remember things and stay organized. Keep a notepad and pen with you at all times so you can jot down things as you think of them. 

Set Simple Goals

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s helpful to set simple goals for yourself. Instead of trying to do everything at once, try focusing on one task at a time. 

Take breaks often and allow yourself time to relax.

Give Yourself Grace

It’s important to be gentle with yourself during this time. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling or if you can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list. 

Plan Ahead 

When possible, try to plan ahead. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by last-minute tasks. 

Develop a Routine

A routine can help you feel more in control and organized. Try to stick to a schedule as much as possible.  

Lean on Your Support System

Your friends and family can be a great source of support during postpartum mental fog. Ask them for help with things like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of your baby.

Talk to Other Moms

It can be helpful to talk to other moms who are going through the same thing. There are a number of online support groups and forums where you can find advice and comfort from others who understand what you’re going through.

Give Yourself a Break

Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re having trouble concentrating or forgetting things. Just relax and take it one day at a time. 

Get Plenty of Sleep

When you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to experience postpartum mental fog. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night if you can.

Naps can also be helpful, especially when your baby is sleeping.

Boost Your Brain Health with Nutrients and Brain Games

You can help improve your postpartum fog by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of aerobic exercises.

You should also try to get some cognitive stimulation each day through activities like reading, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and various brain games.

This can help keep your mind sharp and reduce symptoms of postpartum mental fog.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you can’t cope with postpartum fog on your own, it’s vital to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide you with the professional support and guidance you need during this time.

The Bottomline 

If you’re experiencing postpartum mental fog, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, and ask for help from your friends and family.

There are also a number of online support groups and forums where you can find advice and comfort from other mothers who understand what you’re going through.

Most importantly, be patient with yourself and give yourself grace. It can take time to recover from childbirth and postpartum fog. Just relax and take it one day at a time.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to clear it efficiently, here are more helpful articles for you to read, and feel free to join this online community of brain health advocates.

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