Most mums experience a little brain fog from time to time, but if you want to sharpen up try our 10 favourite ways to clear the air.
Focus during labour
Rosemary has long been linked to memory, but it can also help you have a focused, joyful labour. Rosemary can trigger contractions, so it’s not suitable during pregnancy, but once you’re in labour, burn the Labour candle from Zing Organics Nurturing Pregnancy Collection, which contains rosemary and essential oils (£19.50, zingorganics.co.uk).
Simplify and organise
Research has shown that multi-tasking can lead you to be less efficient than if you just focus on one job at a time. Make a list, so you don’t have to worry about remembering things, then tackle tasks one by one. This V&A Mini Notebook Set is ideal for jotting down must-dos (£8 for three, vam.ac.uk).
Blackcurrant juice has been found to boost the alertness of healthy young adults (aged 18-35) and reduce mental fatigue – perfect when you’ve been up with a teething baby! Treat yourself to this blackcurrant sorbet – dissolve 200g sugar in 275ml boiling water then keep on a low heat for two minutes, remove and leave to cool. Blend 450g blackcurrants, sieve the purée and mix with 2tbsp orange juice and the sugar solution to form a smooth mixture. Freeze in a container with a lid for 2-3 hours, remove and blend with a handheld blender. Return to the freezer until set, then serve.
Focus on fun
While Play-Doh is great for boosting toddlers’ creativity, Mohdoh contains essential oils so you can reap aromatherapy benefits while you play. ‘Think’ contains rosemary, basil and rosewood (£4.99, mohdoh.co.uk).
Have a cuppa
Can’t remember where your keys are? Have a cup of peppermint tea! In a Northumbria University study, 180 people drank peppermint or camomile tea before taking a test. The peppermint-tea drinkers remembered more words and pictures. The peppermint also helped with long-term memory. We like Summerdown Mint Peppermint Tea (£4.50, www.summerdownmint.com).
Pick up a pumpkin
Pumpkins themselves might be coming into season soon, but the seeds are good all year round, particularly if you need a memory boost. They contain lots of zinc, which helps you stay sharp, plus magnesium and B vitamins to boost your mood. Try nibbling on a handful when you’re feeling peckish. Tesco Pumpkin seeds, £1.25 for 150g.
Get an omega-oomph
Omega-3 fats, including DHA and EPA, are found in oily fish, such as mackerel, and are thought to boost memory. If you struggle to eat oily fish regularly, ensure you get enough essential fats by adding 1-3 tbsp Udos Choice Ultimate Oil Blend (£22.99, udoschoice.co.uk) to your food daily.
Herbal help to sleep
It likely comes as no surprise that researchers found mums are still ‘excessively sleepy’ 18 weeks after having their baby. When your little one nods off, apply a drop of Spa Magik Organiks 6-Oil Super Serum (£17.95, hollandandbarrett.com) to your pulse points. The serum contains lavender and rose hip to help you relax.
Indulge with chocolate
We all know chocolate makes you feel good, but research has shown it can also boost memory. Cocoa contains flavanols, which are linked to higher scores on cognitive tests. To get the benefits, stick to dark chocolate - we love Hotel Chocolat 85 per cent Dark Chocolate Slabs (£3.85 for 100g, hotelchocolat.com).
When you’re feeling ‘foggy’, working out might be the last thing on your mind, but research has discovered that aerobic exercise can improve memory. Exercise triggers a protein called Cathepsin B, which boosts brain-cell growth, and people who exercise consistently for four months perform better at complex recall tasks. If you’re used to aerobic activity, it’s safe to continue in pregnancy; if not, start gently and focus on low-impact exercises where you always keep one foot on the ground.