Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
November 28, 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

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Do you feel like you can’t think straight lately? Are you having trouble remembering things? Can you barely focus on work and other things?

You might be experiencing “pregnancy brain.” This is a common condition that many pregnant people experience.

In this article, we will discuss what pregnancy brain fog is, how to deal with it, and some tips to help you stay sharp during gestation and even after giving birth.

Let’s get started.

What is pregnancy brain, exactly?

Pregnancy brain, also known as “momnesia,” “baby brain,” “mommy brain,” or “mom’s brain,” is a phenomenon experienced by pregnant people. It is characterized by forgetfulness and an inability to focus on tasks.

Pregnant people may feel disorganized, have difficulty concentrating, and be more easily distracted than normal.  They may also notice changes in their memory and thinking skills.

These pregnancy brain symptoms generally start during the first trimester and can last throughout gestation.

It is important to note that pregnancy brain is not a disorder or a sign of any mental issue. It is simply an effect of the gestation hormones, which can affect how your body functions.

Is pregnancy brain real?

Yes, pregnancy brain is real, according to several studies. While “baby brain” can be frustrating and disruptive, it is a normal part when you’re expecting.

The good news is that there are ways to manage the symptoms of pregnancy brain fog. With the right strategies, you can stay sharp throughout the term and beyond.

What causes pregnancy brain fog?

The causes of foggy-headedness from pregnancy may vary from one person to the next. Here are some of the common factors that cause cognitive impairment in pregnant women:


Getting foggy-headed when you’re expecting is believed to be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy as well as the slight changes in human brain structure, which is common in pregnant and postpartum women.

The hormones estrogen and progesterone are known to affect memory and thinking skills.

These hormones can influence the way your brain processes information, making it difficult to concentrate or remember things. They may also make you more easily distracted than normal.


Pregnancy is physically and mentally exhausting. The fatigue caused by pregnancy can make it difficult to concentrate or remember things.

Feeling tired and even exhausted in the first 12 weeks of expecting is normal. The constant lack of energy can cause a slugging, dragging feeling that affects both physical and cognitive function in the day-to-day.

Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for a healthy brain and a successful pregnancy, but it can be hard to come by.

Many pregnant women experience sleep deprivation, such as insomnia and other sleep disturbances that can cause fatigue and difficulty concentrating. 


During pregnancy, your diet is especially important. Eating nutritious foods can help you stay sharp and focused.

Not getting enough of the right nutrients can result in fatigue, poor concentration, and memory problems. A balanced diet is crucial in keeping your brain healthy during pregnancy.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can play a role in pregnancy brain. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to focus or remember things.

Taking steps to reduce stress during pregnancy will help keep your mind sharp. Getting aerobic exercise and practicing mindfulness are great ways to reduce stress levels.

Common Symptoms of Brain Fog Pregnancy

Common symptoms of the “mommy brain” include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor memory recall
  • Disorganization at home or work 
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Struggles with problem-solving
  • Irritability or sudden mood swings
  • Headaches

The Effects of Pregnancy on the Brain

The brain is incredibly complex, and the effects of pregnancy on it are still being studied. However, some research has shown that pregnancy can affect the brain in various ways:

Impacts on memory

Some studies have found that pregnant women experience changes in their memory and thinking skills. They may have difficulty concentrating or remembering things and may be more easily distracted than normal.

Other studies have shown that the hormones estrogen and progesterone can influence the way the brain processes information. This can make it difficult for pregnant women to concentrate or remember things.

Alterations in mood

Pregnant women may also experience changes in their mood. Hormonal changes, stress, and anxiety can all contribute to mood swings or irritability during pregnancy.

Research has shown that pregnancy can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress and anxiety. This can lead to emotional instability or even depression. 

Changes in gray matter

The brain’s gray matter volume may also be affected by pregnancy. Gray matter includes the structures that are responsible for memory, thought processes, and emotions.

Pregnant women have been found to have decreased gray matter in certain areas of women’s brains, which can lead to difficulties with brain processes, reaction time, or remembering things.

When does pregnancy brain start, and how long will it last?

Pregnancy brain usually begins in the first trimester and can last through delivery.

It’s important to remember that different women experience pregnancy brain differently, and there is no right or wrong way to feel during this time. It is a normal part of pregnancy and should not be viewed as a sign of weakness.

How to Improve Memory During Pregnancy

Although pregnancy brain can be frustrating, there are some things you can do to help improve your memory and focus: 

Prioritize your sleep quality.

Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy pregnancy and keeping your brain sharp. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and take short naps during the day if you need them.

If you are struggling to get a good night’s rest, here are some tips to optimize your sleep: 

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals in the evening
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark
  • Exercise during the day to help calm your mind when it’s bedtime. 
  • Listen to soft music, read a book, practice deep breathing and meditation, or do anything relaxing before bed.

Eat brain-boosting meals.

Including brain-boosting foods in your diet can help improve memory and focus.

Foods like blueberries, salmon, walnuts, eggs, and spinach are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to protect the brain from damage.

Other foods that are good for boosting mental clarity include avocados, legumes, and nuts.

Consult your doctor about brain-boosting supplements and vitamins.

Certain supplements and vitamins can help protect the brain from decline and improve memory.

Your doctor can help you determine if any of these would be beneficial for you:

  • Fish oil: helps reduce inflammation in the brain
  • Vitamin B6 and folate: essential for cognitive function
  • Ginkgo biloba: improves blood flow to the brain
  • Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT oil: increases levels of ketone bodies, which are known to help protect the brain.

Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is key for mental clarity and focus, especially during pregnancy.

Studies show that even mild dehydration can impair cognitive performance. So, it’s essential to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.

Make sure to drink 8-12 glasses of water every day to keep your body and brain functioning optimally.

Get enough sunlight and do aerobic exercise.

Exposure to sunlight and physical activity can help improve cognitive performance.

Getting outside for even a few minutes a day will help boost your mood and keep your brain healthy.

Research has also shown that aerobic exercise, such as jogging or walking, can help increase brain function and improve memory.

Reduce stress with relaxation techniques.

Stress can have a negative effect on our mental clarity and focus. So, it’s important to find ways to reduce stress during pregnancy.

Relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help calm your mind and make it easier to focus.

Regular yoga practice has also been shown to be beneficial for cognitive performance and memory.

By taking the time to relax and practice calming techniques, you can help reduce stress and improve your cognitive functioning.

Keep your mind sharp.

It can be difficult to stay focused and motivated during pregnancy, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your mind is working well as it should.

Play brain boosting games, such as puzzles and games. These can help keep the mind sharp and improve cognitive performance.

By staying active mentally and engaging in activities that stimulate your brain, you’ll be better able to stay focused during pregnancy and even after giving birth.

Stay organized.

Staying organized as much as you can is key to keeping your mind sharp and improving cognitive performance during and after pregnancy.

Make lists of tasks to complete and break them down into small, manageable steps that you can focus on one at a time. Keeping organized will help reduce stress and make it easier to stay focused on the task at hand.

Make lists and place them appropriately around your house or inside the car.

By staying organized and making use of lists, you’ll be better able to manage your time and stay focused on what matters most during pregnancy.

Making lists of tasks to complete and placing them strategically around your house or in the car will help keep you on track.

Research shows that writing down to-do lists can help improve memory and focus, which is especially important during pregnancy.

Set reminders, calendar updates, and timers.

Setting reminders and using a calendar to keep track of appointments and tasks can help you stay organized during pregnancy.

Using an online calendar or timer can also be helpful for breaking down tasks into manageable chunks so that you don’t become overwhelmed with all the information.

By setting reminders, calendar updates, and timers, you’ll be better able to stay on top of tasks and keep your mind sharp during pregnancy.

Designate a particular spot for your important items.

Designating a particular spot for important items, such as your phone and keys, can help keep you organized during pregnancy.

Finding a designated spot in the house or car where you can easily find what you need will make it easier to stay on track with tasks and appointments.

When everything is in its place and easily accessible, it’ll be easier to stay focused and organized during pregnancy.

Take snapshots (parked cars and other things).

Taking pictures of the tasks you have to do and the places you go can be helpful for staying organized during pregnancy.

If you need to remember where your car is parked, take a picture of it so that you can find it easily. This will reduce stress and help keep your mind sharp during pregnancy.

You can also take pictures of other essential items, such as grocery lists and your to-do list.

Connect with a supportive community.

Connecting with a supportive community during pregnancy is essential to help reduce stress and keep your mind sharp.

By joining an online forum or support group, you’ll be able to share experiences and tips on how to stay focused and organized during pregnancy.

You’ll also be able to access valuable resources and get advice from other pregnant women who are going through the same experience as you.

Connecting with a supportive community will not only help reduce stress, but it can also boost your confidence and provide emotional support when needed.

Concluding Thoughts

Pregnancy can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, but it’s important to keep your mind sharp during this time.

Brain fog can be a pretty common challenge in pregnancy, among many others. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help you keep your brain healthy even after the term.

By taking the steps we listed above, you’ll be better able to manage your time and keep your mind sharp even while pregnant.

Of course, it’s important to talk to your doctor or midwife about any concerns you may have regarding pregnancy brain.

They will be able to provide personalized advice and guidance on how best to manage the physical and mental challenges of pregnancy.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to clear it naturally, check out these educational resources in our blog.

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