Did you 'let yourself go' as a new Mum, or did you never have it in the first place?

In the EB forums Mums provide their own anecdotal evidence that baby brain may well exist!

Women have reacted with outrage at Australian researchers who say "baby brain" - the addling of the mind by pregnancy and breastfeeding - is a myth.

"Of course it's not a myth. I've got it!" insisted a new mum in close proximity to this writer.

Whether or not baby brain is measurable by tests, there is no doubt that pregnancy and breastfeeding are exhausting and in some case debilitating experiences. And that's just for the dads. It must be really bad for the mums. 

The mum, who asked not to be named - largely because she couldn't recall the exact details of her birth certificate and who wants to know, anyway - said numerous factors contributed to the condition, including lack of sleep and the release during breastfeeding of the hormone oxytocin, which has a soporific effect.

As I raised an eyebrow and pondered the significance of her ability to recall a word as scientific-sounding as "oxytocin", the woman in question - let's call her Mrs W - calmly returned to the tasks to which she had been attending before my interruption: putting salmon in the dishwasher and plates in the fridge. I hoped she had an understanding partner.

Despite cases such as Mrs W, the study - conducted by researchers at the Australian National University and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry last week - found that pregnant women performed just as well in cognitive testing as they did before falling pregnant.

When asked whether she had washed fish on the auto cycle with rinse aid in her days before children, Mrs W refused to comment, instead flinging a fillet of salmon at the questioner's head, leading to suspicions that important neurons had short-circuited in the brain and she was confusing fish with frisbee. I resolved to take video footage next time and send it to the ANU researchers.

Researcher Helen Christensen believed baby brain - also known as "placenta brain" and "milk brain" - was related to what women expected to happen to them in pregnancy and motherhood, the ABC reported. And she was speaking from experience.

"I've had three children myself and I do think about the literature I read at the time, which was suggesting negative things that were going to happen to me," Professor Christensen said.

"When you are pregnant, it's very salient. You can always blame something on pregnancy. If you forget your keys you just go, 'Oh gosh, it's because I'm pregnant.'"

Mrs W suggested Professor Christensen had forgotten what it was really like. "And as if anyone pregnant ever says 'gosh'," she added, before bursting into tears when a hip-hopper from Penrith got his ticket for the final 100 in So You Think You Can Dance.

Pregnant women's speed of thought, long- and short-term memory and flexibility of thinking remained as good as ever, the study found. Some species even got smarter when they were expecting offspring.

"Pregnant rats actually get better at performing spatial tasks compared to non-pregnant rats and they are also much better at managing their anxiety and their fear levels," Professor Christensen said.

Asked to comment, a spokesrat for pregnant and breastfeeding rodents bared its teeth and looked cranky.

Whether or not baby brain is measurable by tests, there is no doubt that pregnancy and breastfeeding are exhausting and in some case debilitating experiences. And that's just for the dads. It must be really bad for the mums.

Cathy Warwick of Britain's Royal College of Midwives told the BBC: "The physical and emotional stresses on a woman's body from pregnancy can make women feel more tired than usual.

"As we all know, tiredness - for men as well as women - can make us lose concentration and cause us to function less effectively.

"This is why midwives encourage pregnant women to take appropriate rest breaks, at home and at work. Many pregnant women will need this rest, and all of them deserve it."

No partner would ever disagree with that. We wouldn't dare.

What do you think? Did you suffer baby brain? Chat with Essential Baby members about 'the baby brain myth'.