PARENTS

Pregnancy Brain: Research Reveals Fascinating Way Women's Brains Are Altered

12/23/2016 12:33 EST | Updated 12/23/2016 12:33 EST

We’ve all heard of “mom brain,” but now a new study confirms that pregnancy really does alter the organ.

Research published by the Nature Neuroscience journal on Monday looked at brain scans of 25 women before they conceived and after they gave birth to their first child. The study found that there was a loss of gray matter in areas of the brain that help “register and consider how other people perceive things.”

Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News’ chief women’s health correspondent, says that these alterations in the brain make women better mothers.

“[The study] actually found changes in parts of the structure and size of the brain,” she said. “The theory here is that those changes occurred to help streamline the moms’ brains to prepare for more nurturing, vigilance and teaching. We all know women who say, ‘You know, I wasn't that maternal until I had my own child, and then something clicked,’ or we become multitaskers.”

Watch the video above to learn more.

Researcher Elseline Hoekzema, who was pregnant with her first child during the study and is now expecting her second, said that she definitely noticed the change in herself after giving birth.

“I have to say honestly that at first I was a little intimidated by these changes,” she said. “However, having actually experienced this once, I indeed have the impression that pregnancy and motherhood has changed me, but in subtle ways. I am still me, but a bit of a different version.”

While researchers “suspect that the changes may be permanent,” they maintain that it is “pure speculation at this point.”

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