The Mind-Boosting Benefits of Motherhood. How Motherhood Can Improve Your Mental Skills, Intelligence, and Preparedness for the Working World
If you have a baby or small children, you may often feel like you have permanently lost your mind, leaving it behind with your pre-baby self. You may feel forgetful, scattered and like you are barely able to manage mundane activities such as changing diapers, washing baby bottles, and doing laundry. You may sometimes feel like your brain has turned to “mush.” Because you do not feel mentally simulated, you may start doubting yourself, causing your self esteem to plummet.
If you cannot remember to turn on the oven or get milk for your kids, you may wonder how you will ever be able go back to work and manage complex tasks. When this happens, it is easy to feel that you have lost your “smarts;” be insecure about going back to work; and wonder what you will do when your baby gets older.
If this sounds like you do not fear – research shows that maternity/motherhood can actually help your brain.
Research Shows Maternity and Child Rearing Actually Build Up the Brain
Contrary to what many moms think, research shows that brainpower actually increases during pregnancy and child rearing. Studies have found significant increases in efficiency, motivation, emotional intelligence, mental acuity, and memory during pregnancy and post-partum.
Learning and Memory
Research reports show that the number of neurons and neuronal connections in your brain actually double during pregnancy and motherhood. This improves brain integration and functions, making you more coherent and less reactive. Even animal research shows that rat mothers become both bolder at navigating their way through mazes, and better at searching for food than their childless counterparts. While pregnant, they seem to form extra synapses in areas of the brain linked to memory, learning, problem-solving, and stress-reduction.
Further, pregnancy-induced hormones (estrogen, progesterone and oxytocin) support learning and memory. They also boost practical and analytical intelligence, enabling moms to think logically, make the right decisions, plan, and detect and correct errors.
Although it may be contrary to what you are currently experiencing, the brain is being biologically primed to handle demanding new experiences and acquire new skills. As an expectant or new mom you become a CEO of your home, competent to handle the needs of your new family and more.
Other Skills That Improve in Motherhood
- Motivation and prioritizing
Motherhood can help you set priorities- everything else seems surprisingly petty in comparison to the well-being of your children. In a way, having children can liberate you, as a woman, to think more like a man- bolder, more willing to take risks, and less hung-up on what other people think of you. There is no time to “sweat the small stuff,” and the knowledge that you absolutely have to leave the office on-time to get home to your children helps develop a laser-like sense of focus.
- Better self-knowledge
Children can push your buttons; being a mom helps you acquire a stronger sense of what you can and cannot do. You may often feel on the verge of anger, but you will also learn your limits. There is something liberating about having faced the worst of oneself, getting close to the edge, and coming through. It is not surprising that mothers emerge with a better self-knowledge of what their limits are and what they can survive.
- Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence involves empathy and attuned communication, enabling us to tune into another’s state of mind to establish interpersonal sensitivity and create a connection. This is probably the clearest category in which mothers blossom. One of the biggest brain boosts for moms is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes. In many relationships, if you do not agree with a person, you can just walk away- but you cannot walk away from your child. Instead, you have to stretch your mind to understand your child’s point of view. As a mom, you learn to listen and be interested in what your child thinks; you learn to ask questions until you fully understand the perspective of your child. These skills of attuning to others help you in your work, and can help you strengthen all relationships in your life.
As a mother, you are used to having less time and needing to be very efficient- you learn how to strategize; become more organized; get smarter about networking with other women; handle chaos more calmly; and get better at dealing with conflict.
As you can see, there are numerous advantages to becoming a mother. It can improve perception, learning, efficiency, and emotional intelligence. In addition, motivation, fearlessness, and ability to multitask and cope with stress improve compared to your pre-baby state.
Although it may appear that taking time off to raise your children will mean a void in your resume, in reality, staying at home with your children can be very effective training for your brain.
The minds and bodies of new moms are challenged, their brains are being rewired to ensure the ability to bond with baby, be engaged, and nurture the baby even in the most difficult circumstances.
Can you appreciate how much you are constantly learning and changing in the short time frame of pregnancy and motherhood?
If you are lacking confidence and feeling insecure about yourself, or you feel you are in a constant mental fog, you may benefit from professional help. Having a therapist can help you sort through your concerns and gather the necessary support to achieve your goals.
Call for a FREE-10minute phone consultation at (281)267-1742
Dr.Irena Milentijevic is a licensed psychologist who specializes in helping mothers and those hoping to be mothers overcome stress, loss, and depression. Her offices are located in Houston and the Woodlands, Texas. Visit her website, www.DrIrena.com to get her free report, “Moms and Mom Wannabes: 10 Ways To Overcome Depression and Reclaim Your Sanity.”
Dr. Irena offers online therapy for women and couples in Texas and New York City. She uses research-proven method, known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help couples develop and maintain the emotional connection and support each other through stressful times. She has helped highly distressed couples be available and responsive to each other, access their resiliency, and strengthen their relationships.
If you would like to schedule a session, email Dr. Irena for a free 10-minute video consultation: [email protected] or call (281)-267-1742.