Why Baby Brain is Total Bull

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Like anyone who finds themselves sleep-deprived and recovering from a major physical trauma, I'm not always 100% with it these days. I forget stuff. I get confused. I even get cranky. My less than perfect state of mind seems to make everything more difficult. From keeping up with my email to staying on top of bills and paperwork, life just seems a little harder than it was before having my baby. At a recent visit to my pediatrician I got the date confused and carelessly blamed the mix-up on my post-baby fatigue.

"Oh yeah," she said. " That's the baby brain. Be prepared, your short-term memory isn't coming back."

I was floored. I've heard this kind of thing from other women before - the idea that you lose something mentally after having a child - but hearing it from my kid's doctor was especially upsetting. Here is a woman with a serious career - someone with children of her own, and obviously a good head on her shoulders, and she is telling me that I'm no longer as capable as I once was, simply because I had become a mother.

Sorry, but I call bullshit on this whole thing. I refuse to believe that my short-term memory, I.Q., or brain capacity has been addled by childbirth. Am I as sharp as I was before I had Charlie? No, but I haven't had more than three consecutive hours of sleep in over six weeks. I am fairly certain that a man would lose his edge just as easily from the same calibur of sleep deprivation. I'm also totally confident that once I've been allowed some time to recover my brain will get back into the swing of things.

Beyond finding the idea of Baby Brain personally irritating, I feel like perpetuating this kind of stereotype does nothing but undermine women on the whole. I mean really, if we all lost I.Q. points after childbirth how would any woman manage to have a successful career after children? If anything, I would argue that motherhood probably makes most women smarter. Skills like multi-tasking, time management, and creative problem-solving are exercised on a daily basis when you are a mom. How on Earth would the everday flexing of those muscles make a woman less intelligent? 

Women juggle work and family everyday, often without an abundace of support. Instead of explaining their faults and mistakes away with a oppressive myths, why not just acknowledge that noone is perfect, especially when they are exhausted and overworked. It's Ok to be tired. It's Ok to make mistakes. These things are not indicators of waning intelligence. They are simply the side effects of being human.

Originally posted on Mary Makes Babies

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