Steven Wm. Fowkes, president of the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute (CERI) in Menlo Park, California, and publisher of the Smart Drug Newsletter, explains that the same processes affecting memory in general also interfere with a pregnant woman's memory. Fowkes cites the following disruptions (which run on a parallel with Dunbar's recommendations) that occur in all people and cause memory to become dulled:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Pregnant women are told to take folic acid and follow other guidelines on what to eat, what not to eat, and what to do during a pregnancy. Nutrients from a woman's body are passed onto her fetus, so if a woman experiences bouts of nausea, her diet may change, causing a lack of nutrients necessary for the pregnancy. For example, according to Fowkes, "B12 deficiency (from avoidance of meat) can undermine memory and decrease DNA stability."
- Sleep Disturbances: Fowkes agrees that sleep disturbances can cause memory problems. "It is my opinion that most sleeping problems are themselves caused by deeper influences [such as] metabolic disturbances, nutritional deficiencies ... which can independently undermine memory function," he says.
- Energy Disruption: Fatigue, lack of stamina, constipation, depression, memory loss, mental fuzziness, and having difficulties finding the right word when speaking can all be symptoms of energy disruption. A pregnant woman may experience any of these symptoms if she has been diagnosed with pregnancy-induced pre-diabetes. "The placenta causes a pregnant woman's tissues to become insulin resistant, which prevents her tissues from absorbing and utilizing glucose efficiently," says Fowkes. "Because the fetus is incapable of deriving appreciable energy from fat until the very latest stages of the pregnancy, fetal development is highly glucose dependent." Fowkes says this is a cause of collateral memory problems.
Tales from Women Like You
Whether myth or truth, many mothers admit to feelings of memory loss when they become pregnant, and some claim that this lapse in memory continues beyond pregnancy.