If you've always thought your brain turned to mush after having a baby, you thought wrong. Because a new study has found that becoming a mum may actually make you brighter.
Research published by the American Psychological Association shows that a woman makes more brain cells than ever in the weeks and months after she has given birth.
And the more doting you are, the brainier you become, as the study found the biggest increase in brain cell production in mothers who gushed the most about their babies.
Neuroscientists from Yale University scanned the brains of 19 new mothers in the weeks after they had given birth to find out what changes took place.
The results showed that the amount of grey matter – brain cells that process information – had increased by a small but significant amount over the first three or four months of motherhood.These changes don't normally occur unless it's after intense periods of learning or a brain injury or illness.
The areas of the brain that were stimulated involved motivation, reasoning, judgement, the processing of emotions and feelings of satisfaction. All are key to the mother-child relationship.
The researchers believe that the hormonal changes associated with having a baby changes the brain, helping prepare women for the challenges ahead. Expansion of the brain's motivation areacould lead to more nurturing, which could help babies survive and thrive physically, emotionally and cognitively.
And the memory lapses that plague new mums? It's all down to sleep deprivation, says the research.