It’s not uncommon anymore for women to work through their pregnancies, but that little bundle of joy comes with the dreaded side effect of pregnancy brain — that chronic forgetfulness that seems to follow every expectant mother around.
Whether it’s your pregnancy hormones or the lack of energy, you’re at risk of making mistakes, forgetting meetings, or thinking that you’re losing your mind. If pregnancy brain is making work a nightmare, here are some tips and tricks to help you survive until after your little one is born.
1. Sleep Whenever You Can
Learning to sleep whenever you can is a habit you should get into before the baby is born — it will serve you well when you need to catch a catnap while your newborn sleeps during the day. It also serves another purpose here — catching some extra ZZZs can help stave off your pregnancy brain blues.
One of the possible causes of the pregnancy-related forgetfulness is not getting enough sleep. Whether it’s due to discomfort at night, your mind training you for the upcoming sleepless nights or some other cause altogether, we might never know. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try:
- Investing in a body pillow or pregnancy pillow. Basically, you want something to support your legs and back while you sleep.
- Napping whenever you can. This might not always be an option during the workday, but, if you’ve got an hour long lunch break, try snagging a 20 minute catnap.
- Address the individual problems. Heartburn keeping you awake? Eat smaller, more frequent meals, and try a protein rich snack before bed to keep the burning at bay.
When you’re a new parent, sleep is like gold. Hoard it like the pregnant dragon you are because you won’t be getting much for the next few years, and that lack of sleep is likely contributing to your forgetfulness.
2. Rely on Your Calendar Notifications
Are you missing meetings, forgetting doctor’s appointments, or just being fairly absentminded? Do you carry a smartphone with you at all times, like the majority of people? If you answered yes to both questions, you’ve got one of the best tools to help fight pregnancy brain right in your pocket or purse — calendar alerts.
Both Android and Apple devices have a calendar app that you can use to keep track of your appointments. As an added bonus, you can set up multiple reminders for days, hours, or even minutes before the event is supposed to occur.
Take all of your appointments, as soon as you make them, and enter them into your calendar before you have time to forget. Set up a few notifications to make sure you don’t miss it, and you’ll never have to blame your pregnancy brain for a missed appointment or meeting again.
3. Stock-Up on Omega-3s
We all know eating a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, but it can also help you shed your brain fog — if you’re eating a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids, that is.
Omega-3s have been found to help build brain cell membranes and even promote new cell formation. They are, quite literally, one of the best nutrients for brain health.
Some of the best sources of these fatty acids are coldwater fish like salmon, herring and halibut — if you don’t include these in your diet already, it’s a good idea to start. Just make sure you do so in moderation — eating too much fish while pregnant can expose you and your baby to elevated levels of mercury.
If you’re not a fish fan, you can still get your fatty acids from a variety of vegetables, roots and seeds. Chia and flax seeds are favorites because they can be added to smoothies or other foods. Beans and dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula and purslane can all be good sources of Omega-3.
You can also take this in the form of a supplement, but be sure to discuss that with your doctor first and choose one that is purified to remove mercury.
4. Stop Multitasking Until After Delivery
It’s tempting to try to do as much as possible during pregnancy to prepare both your home and your workplace for the time you’ll be taking off after the baby is born. While achieving these goals feels great, make sure you’re working on one thing at a time.
Even if you’re the world’s greatest multitasker, pregnancy brain makes completing more than one thing at a time nearly impossible.
The human brain isn’t designed to multitask, so when you pair that with the brain fog that’s come over you since pregnancy, you’ll find yourself with a dozen half-finished tasks, wondering why you spent the whole day working and ended up accomplishing nothing.
Instead of trying to multitask, create a to-do list, and make it a point to finish one item at a time. Make sure it’s 100% complete, then move on to the next item on the list. You’ll get more done, and you won’t be as stressed about it.
5. Give Yourself a Break
One of the biggest things that comes with pregnancy is hormones, and those hormones can make you turn from a screaming monster to a sobbing mess in no time flat. While it’s important to maintain a professional demeanor at work, it’s not the end of the world if you break down and cry in the office.
If you’re embarrassed to cry in front of others, take a break and lock yourself in your office, the bathroom or anywhere that you can get a few minutes to yourself, and let your emotions out.
Work is stressful — we get it — and it can be even harder to deal with that stress when you’re forgetting meetings because of pregnancy brain and trying to deal with your overwhelming hormones. Give yourself a break. Your coworkers might be more on top of meetings, but are they growing a human while they do it?
6. Don’t Go Herbal
There are tons — literal tons — of homeopathic products on the market that claim to help with the brain fog that comes with pregnancy. Everything from Gingko Biloba to rosemary are supposed to help mental clarity and focus.
Stop. Right. There.
First, most of these claims have not been proven, so you’re basically guessing to see what might or might not help.
Second, many of them — like Gingko— aren’t even safe to take during pregnancy.
Skip the herbal remedies. If you’re dead-set on adding one to your daily regimen, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
7. Write Down Everything
Finally, when you’re dealing with pregnancy brain, the most important thing to do is write down everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s important or not — write it down on the off-chance that it will become important, and you’ll need to remember it.
Even if you’re not at risk for forgetting things, carrying a simple pocket notebook can help you organize your thoughts and keep track of everything, from contact information to when the next meeting is — so you can put it in your calendar app!
Don’t skimp on the pens either — invest in a nice pen you’ll be willing to use all the time. A pen that is comfortable in your hands can make a world of difference.
Don’t let pregnancy brain keep you from getting the job done. There are plenty of ways to maintain your cool and keep your head on your shoulders during your pregnancy. Have any advice that you’d like to share about how you survived pregnancy brain? Let us know in the comments below, and subscribe for more updates to help you through pregnancy and life as a working mom!
Get everything you need to build a career you love by signing up for the newsletter.