Is ‘Pregnancy Brain’ for Real?

Is being pregnant actually an excuse for ‘bad’ behavior? (Photo: Getty Images)

We all have bad days — and Kim Kardashian is no exception.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, who recently announced that she’s pregnant with her second child, went on a profanity-laced Twitter rant yesterday covering everything from how sick she’s feeling (very) to rumors that she’s faking her pregnancy.

You can see how it went down, here, but Kardashian sums it up with this Tweet: 

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Her tweets were so out of character that even Twitter thought her account had been hacked and contacted her about it. 

But is pregnancy really to blame? 

It’s no secret that many women become more emotional when they’re pregnant, and some claim that they’re not able to think as clearly due to a phenomenon known as “pregnancy brain.” But while a recent study from Brigham Young University of 42 pregnant women concluded that women’s problem-solving skills aren’t impacted by pregnancy, experts say there are definitely other factors at play that can impact a pregnant woman’s ability to think clearly.

“Pregnancy can be an extraordinarily emotional experience,” Jason S. James, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Baptist Hospital of Miamitells Yahoo Health. “Many women are excited but that can be tempered by anxiety and fear. Hormones play a role as well.”

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James says the exact role of hormones and emotions is “poorly understood” but that doctors have seen that the change in hormones in a woman’s body during pregnancy can affect her emotions, thought process, and memory.

The main hormones at play? The pregnancy hormone progesterone, which increases 10-fold and the female sex hormone estrogen.

“During pregnancy, there are the highest amounts of estrogen and progesterone that women will probably ever see in their lives,” says Mary Kimmel, MD, medical director for the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She notes that the stress hormone cortisol is also increased in a woman’s body during this time, which can make pregnant women feel frazzled.

That hormone cocktail, coupled with a slew of emotions that naturally come with pregnancy can leave women feeling much more emotional than usual.

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Women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, likens the change in emotions to PMS but, unfortunately for pregnant women, its symptoms last nine months.

While James says some of the mood swings are out of a pregnant woman’s control, there are things women can do to lessen the impact. Awareness is key, he says: “Letting pregnant women know that this is normal and common helps them not panic when they have these emotions.”

Sheryl Ross, MD, a women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., stresses that adequate sleep, a good diet, and regular exercise can help. She also says it’s crucial for women to try to shut out negativity during this time in order to keep their stress levels under control: “Don’t read the blogs from angry pregnant women and don’t allow friends and family to tell you the pregnant women horror stories.”

So, while Kardashian’s Twitter rant was unusual for her, it’s pretty normal for a pregnant woman…and that’s okay. Says Kimmel: “For your first or your fourth child, this is a huge transition. It’s okay to have whatever feelings you’re having.”

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