After hours of childbirth and never-ending labour, including enduring the worst pain you could ever imagine you would think the last thing a woman could ever forget would be the fact that she had just delivered a baby.
Well apparently not.
“My Wife Completely Forgot She’d Just Had A Baby”
New dad, Paulo Costeri, shared that after a 48-hour labour and welcoming a beautiful baby boy, his wife totally blanked out when he handed their baby over for a feed the next morning.
He explains, “During the second day in the hospital, it was afternoon. My wife wanted to rest because she couldn’t do it the day before. Our son was born during the night, and between crying from him, others and the busy hospital routine (check-ups, meals), she hadn’t slept much.
“She went to rest and did for about 3 hours. As you can imagine, our son started to be hungry. She was breastfeeding, and I decided to wake her up. She sat on the bed, I put the baby in her lap, but there was something strange. She was staring at the baby and me and doing nothing.”
“She took a long pause and started crying a bit. It was like she was looking at a stranger. Something was off. She couldn’t remember our baby, where she was, myself or even her name. She had started breastfeeding him, but without knowing what she was doing.”
The dad shared that at the time he didn’t call the doctor’s but looking back wished he had.
“I didn’t call the doctors, looking back I know that I should have, but luckily she came back to herself in about 5 to 10 minutes.”
Was it just a case of pregnancy brain?
A postpartum mum may forget things, feel less mentally sharp, and have memory lapses — informally called pregnancy brain, mummy brain or mumnesia.
A study from 2016 confirms there is brain’s grey matter loss in pregnant women. It may begin as early as the first trimester, and it can last up to two years post-pregnancy.
High levels of hormones may also explain these alterations.
“There is 15 to 40 times more progesterone and estrogen marinating the brain during pregnancy,” Louann Brizendine, MD, director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, tells WebMD. “And these hormones affect all kinds of neurons in the brain. By the time the woman delivers, there are huge surges of oxytocin that cause the uterus to contract and the body to produce milk — and they also affect the brain circuits.”
Women unaware they had a baby
Those damn painkillers can sure knock you out!
One mum was so high on painkillers after giving birth to her son that she thought her newborn baby came out of her bellybutton.
She appeared oblivious to the fact that she just gave birth to her second child.
Her partner assures his wife she just had a baby, and she responds with utter confusion.
Wide-eyed and concerned, she says, “To who?!,” and her husband points to their new baby, Clay.
Mum woke two weeks later totally unaware
Another woman with a rare neurological disorder that sees her sleeping for days or even weeks, woke up after sleeping for two weeks to discover that she had given birth to her first child.
The Birmingham mum of two told the Daily Mail: “One moment I’ve closed my eyes and the next I’ve woken up and it’s two or three weeks later. I’ve missed holidays and my sister’s 18th birthday because I was in an episode.
It upsets me because I don’t remember giving birth and it’s supposed to be a precious moment. I think that’s the most upsetting episode I ever had. It gets me emotional because I missed it”.
Her baby was delivered naturally at University of Coventry Hospital, with the woman in a trancelike state, conscious but unable to understand what the medical staff were saying to her. When she eventually woke up two weeks after giving birth, she looked down at her body and was surprised to see that her baby bump had disappeared.
This mum slept through the whole thing!
Doctors failed to realise how far along Alice was during labour because of a malfunctioning machine, they gave the woman some medicine to ease her pain, but they didn’t realise that she just about 10 centimeters dilated already.
The medication caused Alice to doze off and by the time she woke up an hour later, her baby boy was almost completely born.
While remaining asleep, Alice’s body responded to her husband’s voice telling her to push. Incredibly, Alice only woke up for the last 10-15 minutes of the delivery and fell back asleep shortly after the baby was born.
Forgotten Baby Syndrome
Forgotten Baby Syndrome is a very real thing and often described as the reason why parents forget their child and leave them behind in hot cars or forget to drop them at daycare.
David Diamond, professor of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, told ABC News that scientific studies of the brain prove that Forgotten Baby Syndrome does in fact exist.
“It’s our brain habit system. It allows you to do things without thinking about it. That plan we have to stop a habit seems to get suppressed. We lose awareness of our plan to interrupt that habit. These different brain systems actually compete against each other.”
Diamond explained that when there’s competition between the brain’s “habit memory system” and its “prospective memory system” and the habit memory system takes over, then Forgotten Baby Syndrome can occur.
So could a similar syndrome be at play when women totally forget they have just given birth?
Meanwhile, we know there are many women that have given birth in heartbreaking circumstances that may never know they delivered their baby while in a coma or after suffering a tragic incident. Our thoughts are with those families.
If you need support please reach out to Lifeline 13 11 14