Perspectives: 10 Moms on What It Feels Like to Have Mom Brain

Perspectives: Mom brain

Verywell / Christian Alzate

For our Perspectives series, we are interviewing diverse parents on how they dealt with changes in their cognitive function after having children, most commonly called mom brain.

Postpartum life for a first-time mom can be overwhelming thanks to discovering your new body, adhering to a new schedule, and of course, taking care of an infant. For me, as a super-achiever and overfunctioner in my pre-baby life, the feeling of “mom brain” or “baby brain” postpartum was one of the most frustrating experiences. Where I could memorize things at an unthinkable pace and volume before, I could barely remember the words for mundane objects, never mind whether or not I had turned the stove off. 

In fact, I forgot to hit “send” on several interview request emails to moms about mom brain; the ultimate mom brain experience. 

While mom brain—often defined as a feeling of forgetfulness or absent-mindedness—can be frustrating, annoying, and sometimes downright scary for new moms, it can also be an opportunity to take a step back and realize that it’s very normal to have that brain fog after having a baby.

Below, moms share what mom brain feels like, tips for making it through, and a few stories to help you realize that mom brain could just be part of the process of being a mother.

Divya Vaswani

Divya Vaswani

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Divya Vaswani

  • Age: 36
  • Location: Atlanta
  • Kids’ current ages: 6 and 8

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

It feels as if something is always missing. I thrive off to-do-lists, both mental and written, and mommy brain made it feel like I was forgetting even routine tasks. I was always second-guessing myself: Did I pack extra clothes for daycare? Did I unplug my curling wand? 

I’d have to ask myself, “What’s the word for that?” Something as simple as “chair” wouldn’t come to mind even after staring at a chair. It can feel like you’re in a constant state of fog.

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

I remember being at the mall one afternoon, pushing the stroller. I had a moment of panic after walking past a mirror and the stroller was empty! I was hysterical, thinking I left my child somewhere or even worse, thought someone had taken him.

Not even 10 seconds later, I took another look in the mirror and realized my son was literally hanging off me in his Baby Björn. I laughed at myself when I shared the story with my husband that evening, but it was definitely a case of mommy brain mush. 

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain? 

Don’t be too hard on yourself! I tried to find the humor in some of those mommy brain situations. It’s a phase and it will pass. It really helped to rest when I had the opportunity to (even if that meant being a season behind on whatever Bravo show I didn’t need to watch!). 

I prepare the night before to make sure I have the tools I need to get through the next day successfully. And don’t forget: it is 100% OK to ask for help! It’s OK if each day isn’t the perfect one with a baby. Sometimes that means leaning on family and friends to get you through. 

I’d say it took about a year to really feel like my brain was forgetting things less. I felt more organized again and much more confident in my day-to-day. The lack of sleep and constant nursing can quickly take a toll!

Carly Kuikman

Carly Kuikman

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Carly Kuikman

  • Age: 32
  • Location: Chicago 
  • Kids’ current ages: 8 months and 3

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

Mom brain feels like you just aren't there like you've constantly lost your train of thought, and it can be incredibly frustrating. Sometimes it hits me as an inability to remember what I was doing or how to get words out, whereas other times, I realize I've done something silly only after the fact. My husband claims that sometimes I say one thing yet I heard something entirely different. 

Carly Kuikman

Mom brain feels like you just aren't there like you've constantly lost your train of thought, and it can be incredibly frustrating.

— Carly Kuikman

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

My poor son did end up at the pool swimming in his shorts once. While not a big deal on its own, before we left the house, my husband asked if we had everything we needed for the pool. Diapers? Check! Towel? Check! Change of clothes? Check! It wasn't until we were in the locker room changing that I realized I forgot his swimsuit.

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain? 

With my second, I found mom brain to be so much worse, to the point that I was concerned I needed to go see a neurologist. However, I spoke with my OB at my annual and she made me feel better. She asked when it was happening and we realized it was never with work or professional things and always on the home front. 

It happened when I was overwhelmed or completely distracted, which is basically all the time as a mom of two. I'm always doing a million things at once and so it's easy for things and my brain and thoughts to slip through the cracks. I've found that if I concentrate on what I'm doing and be more mindful, I have fewer of those mom brain moments. 

My OB also made me feel better, asking if I was forgetting things like my passwords. That's where she would be more concerned.

The trick of really being more in the moment has helped and at 8 months postpartum, I'm starting to feel like myself again. But I'm not back to 100% and not sure I ever will be. Being a mom changes you! 

Kristen Tiberio

Kristen Tiberio

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Kristen Tiberio

  • Age: 35
  • Location: Warwick, R.I.
  • Kids’ current ages: daughter, 2 months; stepson 8 

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

Mom brain for me is waking up and feeding the dog...and then trying to remember if I fed the dog 20 minutes later. It’s feeling foggy and slowed down, but with a racing, overwhelmed mind. 

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

I’ve forgotten passwords that were memorized for years. I grabbed ice for my water and tossed it in my bowl of popcorn instead. I’ve turned off my engine before putting the car in park once or twice. 

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain? 

Make a list on your phone or a piece of paper each day of things you need to get done and things you want to get done. It helps to have a reminder! It also helps to slow down and do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is overrated. 

I just started feeling myself when I went back to work part-time outside of the house. Getting dressed and putting on my makeup in the morning honestly felt great. I’m thankful for the ability to work two jobs, one that gets me out of the house and one that allows me to work from home. It is a nice balance. 

Julie Vick

Julie Vick

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Julie Vick

  • Age: 45
  • Location:  Boulder, Colo.
  • Kids’ current ages: 7 and 10

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

For me, it just feels like being a little overloaded with information and things I need to keep track of. It’s just kind of a general mental overwhelm and fatigue. 

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

When my kids were younger, I managed to arrive at a destination a couple of times only to realize when I got there that one of my kids did not have shoes. One time we had driven to a trailhead for a hike, and luckily we had an all-terrain stroller my toddler son could ride in without shoes. 

Another time we drove to a children's museum an hour away from our house and when we arrived I realized my preschooler did not have shoes on. Luckily, the gift shop did have a pair of stuffed animal slippers that we were able to purchase for him to wear. 

After that, I tried to keep a backup of shoes (in addition to clothes, snacks, etc.) in my car in the event I forgot something. My car is like a second mini-home.

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain? 

I feel like just trying to get more sleep helped me because a lot of my forgetfulness or distraction came from not having a lot of sleep. Now that I have elementary-aged kids, it feels like my overwhelm is more about all the emotional labor tasks that I need to keep track of. 

It helps me to make lists of things that I need to do so I don't have to keep them in my head. I've also been guilty of making too many lists in too many different places in the past (a Google doc, my phone's notes app, and physical lists), so now I try to consistently keep everything in a bullet journal.

Julie Vick

I feel more like myself when I get some time alone to refresh and re-organize my thoughts.

— Julie Vick

I feel more like myself when I get some time alone to refresh and re-organize my thoughts. Sometimes that just means going out on a walk on my own and trying to clear out some of the mental clutter. Checking at least a couple of things off my neverending to-do list can also help.

Eva Shortt

Eva Shortt

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Eva Shortt

  • Age: 38
  • Location: Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Kids’ current ages: 4 and 7

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like?

Mom brain feels like a combination of exhaustion and anxiety with a splash of memory loss. It’s crazy how when you’re a new mom you are tasked with learning how to be a parent and take on a slew of responsibilities all while operating on little to no sleep. Things get forgotten, tears are shed. Mistakes are made. Sometimes you just have to laugh at it. 

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

One night I picked up my hungry 2-month-old baby from the crib to nurse him. I tried to find his face but it wasn't there. All of a sudden, I heard an "ehh sound" from below. I had picked up my baby upside down!

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They’re Suffering From Mom Brain? 

Let yourself feel all the feelings. Laugh, because it can be absolutely ridiculous and it (mostly) passes. Cry, because you're tired and frustrated and hungry and overwhelmed and it’s hard.

I never went back to myself. I evolved and adapted to the new changes. I think after 1.5 years with my first and about 2 years after my second born, I started to feel better, and mom brain never goes away—you are a mom after all, and have to keep track of a million and one things! Motherhood forces you to become more organized. I started to prioritize what is important and keep better schedules. Once I started to stay on top of things better, I felt better.

Angela Cruz Ledford

Angela Cruz Ledford

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Angela Cruz Ledford

  • Age: 40
  • Location: West Palm Beach, Fla. 
  • Kid’s current age: 3

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like?  

Fuzzy and dull. I used to easily recall important items on my to-do list, but after I became a mother, I had to write everything down. If I don’t write something down on paper or on my cell phone as a note, I will completely forget and drop the ball. The worst part is that I won’t even know I have forgotten something because you don’t know what you don’t know!

Angela Cruz Ledford

The worst part is that I won’t even know I have forgotten something because you don’t know what you don’t know!

— Angela Cruz Ledford

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

I absolutely hate the forgetfulness. It is honestly more than just an inconvenience; it truly feels a bit scary. At the most aggressive point of having mom brain, I would forget basic words and have to point to something and say, “That thing. What is that THING?” Then my husband would chime in with identifying the object, which oftentimes was something simple like a notebook. I would have just forgotten what it was called.

I also did the expected forgetful actions like walking into a room and forgetting what I was supposed to be doing. I had to walk back out, retrace my steps, and try to recall what was my original purpose. 

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They’re Suffering From Mom Brain? 

I learned to take quick notes on my cell phone around the house—even doing voice memos telling my “later self” what I needed to do, captured at the moment for a later reference. I also started taking “Ultrabrain” supplements by the Energy Blueprint, and I saw a gradual improvement over several months, so I do recommend them. 

When it came to my work, I started keeping a pen and clipboard with me at all times to jot down action items as they popped up. I highly recommend keeping a running “to do” list that you can check off because you can plainly see what needs to be done.

I have not yet returned to my pre-pregnancy sharp state. My son is almost three-and-a-half, and I am just now beginning to feel like my brain is in a better, more functional state. But unfortunately, I still believe I have a long way to go. 

I think it’s inevitable that my brain won’t fully bounce back because my attention is so much more scattered now that I am a mom. Let’s be real, I’m responsible for keeping a tiny human alive—but I am OK with this. The balance is that although my brain may not be what it was, my heart is more full now!

Talina Hollis

Talina Hollis

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Talina Hollis

  • Age: 26
  • Location: Woolwich Township, N.J.
  • Kid’s current age: 3

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like?  

It feels like a thick fog or like my brain is a massive computer. There is no in-between.

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You When You Had Mom Brain? 

A few things have happened to me during this time. For example,  I was searching for a few minutes for my cell phone and it was in my hand the entire time.

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They’re Suffering From Mom Brain? 

My advice to other moms would be to give yourself grace. For me, I feel like it has not gone away. I'm learning to push through mom brain and to love myself in my new normal reality. The best part is being a mom to my son.  

Talina Hollis

My advice to other moms would be to give yourself grace.

— Talina Hollis

Lydia Elle

Lydia Elle

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Lydia Elle

  • Age: 41
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Kid’s current age: 11

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

It feels like a fog, where thoughts are not always clear and sometimes you lose your train of thought.  It’s like you know you know something, but just can’t seem to find the words for it.

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

My daughter has to remind me of a joke we had shared.  Luckily when she does it’s almost as though I get to experience it for the first time again! 

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They’re Suffering From Mom Brain? 

First I would say, be compassionate with yourself and realize that you are and will be fine. Next, write everything down (I use talk-to-text a lot). Finally, I do lots of brain exercises that have helped to retrain my brain to do what I need it to.

I’m not sure there is a “going back to myself” that I really wanted to go back to. I realized that this was part of my motherhood process and I had to learn the new normal.  A big part of mom brain, to me, just comes from having so much more on your plate. It’s not that I’m forgetting because I’m forgetting what I used to do, but rather there is so much more to remember now that I have to take care of a little person.

Once I internalized that message, I created new ways to do some of the things I used to do and forged new habits to help me manage my new tasks.  I wouldn’t change any of it though, because the little person I get to mommy is worth everything.

Meg St-Esprit

Meg St-Esprit

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Meg St-Esprit

  • Age: 38
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Kids’ current ages: 3, 8, 8, and 10

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

I think a lot of people attribute mom brain to pregnancy hormones, but my kids are all adopted and I've still definitely experienced mom brain—especially when our eldest and our twins were infants and toddlers and I was so, so tired. 

I forgot stuff, made poor decisions, and have lost things. I even forgot to buckle my son's car seat one time. I remember our pediatrician warning me at a wellness visit for my twins when they were around three months old that mom fog could be dangerous, and to ask for help when I needed it. Thankfully we have a really great support system.   

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain? 

When my twins were just a few weeks old, I was sleeping in the living room with them in bassinets in an effort to not wake our 2-year-old in our very tiny house at the time. I was on the couch, and it was just like whack-a-mole with bottle feeding and diapers, all night long. 

At one point I woke up and stepped on a baby. I started screaming! I must have dropped a baby in my sleep haze! Then I realized it was a baby doll that we had bought to introduce our oldest to the idea of adopting again. It wasn't one of the twins, thank goodness, but I was so out of it I couldn't remember that I had placed them both safely in their beds. 

Honestly, I didn't have as bad of mom brain with our last baby, a surprise adoption when our older kids were almost 7, 5, and 5. They were self-sufficient, she was an easy baby, there were no other toddlers. Sure, I was tired sometimes, but I didn't feel so foggy and out of it. 

What Are Your Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They’re Suffering From Mom Brain? 

I make lots of lists, use Google calendar religiously, and try to take a few hours once a week to go off by myself (again, I have a great support system). I find that when I eat well and limit coffee and alcohol, my brain feels sharper. Yet food, coffee, and wine are often "Mommy coping mechanisms" so it can be a hard thing to fuel your body well. When you can, it does help. 

Ivey Evans

Ivey Evans

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Ivey Evans

  • Age: 37
  • Location: Columbus, GA
  • Kid's current age: 13 months

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like? 

Having your brain feel simultaneously so full, yet so empty. Not being able to remember what you had for breakfast, but remembering exactly which box you packed away the larger, warmer sleep sack someone gave you at your baby shower that you need now that it is getting cooler.

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain?

I leave my house without my wallet at least once a week. I forget words so frequently, it’s comical. Trying to recount something that happened earlier in the day to my husband is nearly impossible. There are many long pauses while I try to remember simple words like “remote” or “gas station."

I also tell the same stories to my husband frequently, and about halfway through, I'll say, “Did I already tell you this?” There is also the inverse, where I think I told him something and I didn’t. Or I typed out the text but didn’t send it. Or told him in a dream. I’m pretty sure mom brain is the breakdown of marital communication.

My daughter is home with our wonderful nanny while I work most days. About two weeks after coming back from maternity leave, I called my mom bawling crying, saying, “I’m so dumb now! I swear I used to be smart, but I’m so dumb now.” What I was experiencing was peak mom brain, sleep deprivation from having a 12-week-old, and a highly distracting environment [at home]. Thankfully, now I’m much better at tuning out the activities downstairs while I work all day. I still have plenty of “dumb” moments where I question myself and my sanity daily, though.

Any Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain?

I am fortunate to work from home. While I love wearing sweatpants most days, it is a very distracting environment with dogs, the nanny and baby, package deliveries, etc. If I have a meeting where I do not have to actively use my computer, I take it walking. Or pulling weeds. Or folding laundry. I have found I am actually more focused and engaged because I am not trying to multitask with other work items. I’m not reading my email, and the menial task occupies my hands but not my mind.

This is also when my most creative thinking happens! There is actually science supporting this kind of activity to let your mind wander. When your body goes on auto-pilot, your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems. I need all the new neural connections I can get.

Ivey Evans

I think the concept of “myself” has changed so much, I’ll never feel just like I did before having a baby.

— Ivey Evans

I think the concept of “myself” has changed so much, I’ll never feel just like I did before having a baby. I have found it nearly impossible to have my mind completely free of something that didn’t exist before motherhood (pack the lunch, buy the wipes, research the schools). I can unplug and disconnect for a period of time, but it’s always there looming in the back of my brain.

I truly feel that the isolation that has come with the pandemic has exacerbated the collective experience of mom brain, postpartum depression, and the feelings of loneliness that are inevitable when you are a new mother. When my daughter was 6 months old, I had a small group of mom friends who would meet every week outside, let the babies crawl around on blankets, and we’d have a glass of wine. That’s when I started to really feel like I was snapping out of it on the personal front.

I am thankful we can safely start returning to our new normal and reconnect and build a community. That is what really helped me feel like I was starting to be “me” again, albeit a new version of “me.” 

Danielle Carver De Leon

Danielle Carver De Leon

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Danielle Carver De Leon

  • Age: 40
  • Location: Austin
  • Kids' current ages: 10, 11, 13, and 23

What Does Mom Brain Feel Like?

It feels like you are in a fog. Simple things that you would remember otherwise just doesn’t compute. For me, mom brain wasn’t about biology [as I have adopted children]. It was care task after care task. Constant ask after ask. I felt like no one could do my job but I needed help. Mom brain pulled me in every different way but in the same direction all at once. I am only one person meant to do a village worth of work in one day. I wasn’t prepared for this in any way. 

Has Anything Interesting Happened To You While You Had Mom Brain?

I was in the thick of my foster-to-adopt journey. At the time, I had three toddlers, two school-age kids, and a newborn. The baby had kept me up most of the night so we were running late for the kids to get to school. I made sure everyone had their stuff and got everyone loaded into the van. I drove all the way to the school and realized that I still had my very thin and severely stained nightgown on without a bra. I also had forgotten to put shoes on, and to be honest, I don’t think I even brushed my teeth. I had to drive all the way home and unload everyone just to turn around and load up again and go back to the school. Needless to say, it wasn’t my finest moment in motherhood.

Any Tips For Anyone Feeling Like They're Suffering From Mom Brain?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s amazing what a nap and an uninterrupted shower can do for your body.

I still have my moments when I will forget an appointment or send the water bill to the electric company, but overall I feel like the older the kids get, the more I feel like myself. Sleep definitely plays a big part in it. If you’re in the thick of it, be kind to yourself and know that it gets better.

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