Study says: Your brain actually grows after having a baby. (Yes, really.)

By Kaitlin Stanford for

Remember when you were pregnant and could blame a bout of forgetfulness or an embarrassing mishap on good ole pregnancy brain? Or get a free pass on post-delivery "flakiness" because of all that new-baby exhaustion? Sorry, ladies, but it looks like those days are long gone. Not only did researchers recently tell us that pregnancy brain is officially a myth (boo, what a downer), but now they've gone and slapped us with another conundrum: The brains of new moms actually grow after having a baby. Sure, it kills your excuse for absent-mindedness, but it's also kind of awesome.

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So what's behind the sudden cranium growth? Scientists aren't actually sure. But what they do know is which areas of the brain changes the most: those that control sensory perception, reasoning, and judgment (or the parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex.) The study, which was published by the American Psychological Association, made its discoveries after examining the brains of 19 new moms through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. In all cases, each mom showed a significant amount of gray matter growth in a variety of areas, which is what contributed to the actual increase in size of the brain. What's more, moms who communicated more with their babies, fawned over them, and were generally more affectionate showed even more brain growth in the areas linked to motivation, reward, and emotional regulation.

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So what does it all mean? Since not all of the facts have been released yet and researchers are still analyzing their findings, it's not too clear as to whether this brain growth is all just about size or if it actually leads to higher cognitive function in new moms. Hmm...we sure hope it's the latter. Stay tuned.

Photo: Veer / The Bump

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