Pregnancy is both a joyful and painful experience. It is one of a kind and unique to every subsequent one. Women welcome this phase with lots of emotions. There is love, pain, anxiety and... maybe a little loss of brain.

A unique study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that women tend to lose gray areas of their brains during pregnancy. This results in their brain 'shrinking.' The impact of this gray loss doesn’t go away right after birth. It hovers for at least around two years after delivery.

The study conducted in Netherlands and Spain was performed using MRI scans on a group of fathers and first-time pregnant mothers.

On analysis, researchers found that the brain of fathers remained intact, while the brain of mothers showed a significant loss of Gray Matter.

Such a change in the brain architecture might make pregnancy look a bit undesirable. No one wants to lose their brain, but according to researchers, it is nothing but fine tuning.

“We certainly don’t want to put a message out there along the lines of ‘pregnancy makes you lose your brain,’” Elseline Hoekzema, a neuroscientist at Leiden University in Netherlands says. Hoekzema has been the lead author of the study. She also goes on to clarify that. “Gray matter volume loss can also represent a beneficial process of maturation or specialization.”

What exactly shrinks?

Study on pregnant animals has shown that along with adaptive changes, they also go through drastic anatomical brain changes.

The effects of these changes have also been noted to be pretty long lasting. But such a change had never been studied in humans. This research reveals that pregnancy does not merely cause dramatic hormone changes but anatomic changes in women as well.

On studying the area that shrinks, researchers found that this shrinking of gray matter covers areas of processing and responding to social signals.

It does have to do with forgetfulness and lack of ability to concentrate often noted in pregnancy. However, that is not the end result. The end result is a more efficient wiring to respond to infant needs and a greater sense of threat detection in the environment. All in all, it results in greater attachment of mothers to their infants.

So even if your brain just got smaller, it doesn't mean you have become stupid. It only means you have been granted greater space to attend to your infant. Just like Hoekzema told CNN, 'Sometimes less is more.'