Pregnant and emotional? You’re meant to be! During pregnancy, you use the right side of your brain – the area associated with emotions – much more, say researchers.
And that’s good. It’s preparing you to bond with your baby (even if it means you cry during every episode of Britain’s Got Talent).
The research by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, found that pregnant women use the right side of their brain more than new mothers do when they look at faces with emotive expressions.
“Our findings give us a significant insight into the ‘baby brain’ phenomenon that makes a woman more sensitive during the child bearing process”, says Dr Victoria Bourne, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway.
The results suggest that during pregnancy there are changes to the way you process emotions shown on other people’s faces. The researchers believe this is your brain’s way of neurologically preparing you for bonding with your newborn.
It was a small study – looking at the neuropsychological activity of 39 pregnant women and new mothers. When these women were shown images of adult and baby faces with either positive or negative expressions, the pregnant women used the right side of their brain more than new mothers, particularly when processing positive emotions.
Dr Bourne said: “We know from previous research that pregnant women and new mothers are more sensitive to emotional expressions, particularly when looking at babies’ faces. We also know that new mothers who demonstrate symptoms of post-natal depression sometimes interpret their baby’s emotional expressions as more negative than they really are.
“Discovering the neuropsychological processes that may underpin these changes is a key step towards understanding how they might influence a mother’s bonding with her baby.”
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MadeForMums Writer – Jessica Gibb