Contractions & the Brain
Your brain goes through some major physical, hormonal, and emotional changes during childbirth, and may never be the same again, either.
That might actually explain everything that occurs postpartum, from how we bond with our babies to whether or not we can find our car keys a month after giving birth.
According to the Society for Endocrinology, your brain releases hormones during childbirth to tell your body what to do. Then the physical process of birth tells your brain to make more hormones, which creates an intricate cycle, impacting your physical and emotional state during labor, birth, and beyond. (ROMPER)
In a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers scanned the brains of first-time mums before they got pregnant, soon after birth, and during the postpartum period. They found that mums actually lost grey matter in their brains at some point during pregnancy. While the researchers don't fully understand why this happens, they postulate that these changes might actually be nature's way of teaching new mums to focus more on their babies and less on other things.
Another study found that other parts of mums' brains might actually get bigger during pregnancy and birth. As reported by Live Science, researchers from Yale University looked at images of mums' brains before and after childbirth, and found increases in the size of specific areas of the brain, including the amygdala and hypothalamus, which, according to the study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, could play a unique role in helping you develop parenting skills.
Loosing gray matter: While this might seem detrimental, the effect may be quite the opposite. Volume loss can also represent a “fine-tuning of connections.”
The areas of the brain that shrunk the most were those involved in social cognition, the ability to figure out what someone else is thinking and feeling. When a new mom was shown a picture of her baby, these areas of the brain lit up with activity. Enhanced social cognition might help a mother take care of her baby, enabling her to decode the child’s various coos and cries and figure out what she needs.
Improvements in social cognition might come at a cost. While studies looking at cognitive changes during pregnancy and the postpartum period have produced mixed results, many women report experiencing memory problems, a phenomenon termed “pregnancy brain.” Spatial memory, for example, might suffer late in pregnancy because it’s not critical for offspring survival during that time. Instead, the body redirects energy and resources to caring for the baby. (BRAINFACTS)
One study conducted by researchers at Yale University showed that some parts of your brain get bigger right after you give birth
Researchers found pregnancy shrinks the brain’s gray matter, the pinkish-gray tissue containing the cell bodies and synapses of nerve cells. What’s more, the volume loss persisted for at least two years after childbirth.
Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and others most likely drive the changes in the brain structure and function during pregnancy. Hormones can exert a powerful influence on brain cells, and no time in a person’s life produces more extreme hormone fluctuations than pregnancy.
https://www.brainfacts.org/brain-anatomy-and-function/body-systems/2018/how-pregnancy-changes-the-brain-022818 You can find this and other great resources in the app https://www.thenakedbirth.com/shop