milk brain

n.
1. Feelings of disorientation and mental sluggishness reported by some mothers of newborn babies. 2. Total involvement in the care of a newborn baby, to the exclusion of almost everything else. Also: milk-brain.
Example Citations:
"Milk brain." It's a casual, common slur. Even women use it to describe how disorganized they feel in the first frantic days after giving birth. Yet milk brain is just a temporary effect, brought on by sleep deprivation, plus the need to learn (or relearn) the details of child care.
The lasting effect of being a mother, neuroscientists are finding, is the exact opposite of milk brain.
— William Illsey Atkinson, "Giving birth to supermom," The Globe and Mail, February 18, 2006
In Kentucky for a Grail meeting, I was far from home but not alone. Too young to be left behind with my husband and our two older children, five-month-old Seamus weighed heavy in my arms. We had spent an uncomfortable night in a new bed and an exhausting day in meetings. Sheer doggedness was the only thing keeping me awake. Wits scattered by what a friend only half jokingly refers to as "milk-brain," I was familiar with this effort to remain watchful.
— Deirdre Cornell, "A mother's divine office," America, October 21, 2002
Earliest Citation:
Most of my customers are new mothers with what one of them calls "milk brain." They are totally involved with the baby thing.
— Murray Carpenter, "You should want to change diapers'," Maine Times, July 3, 1997
Notes:
Here's an earlier citation that offers a slightly different take on this phrase:
The close reexperiencing of childhood's passions and miseries, the identification with powerlessness, the apprehension of the uses of power, flow inevitably from a close relationship with a son or daughter. Perhaps most shaking, the instinct to protect becomes overwhelming. A writer's sympathies, like forced blooms, enlarge in the hothouse of an infant's need. The ability to look at social reality with an unflinching mother's eye, while at the same time guarding a helpless life, gives the best of women's work a savage coherence. ...
Sigrid Undset's extraordinary Kristin Lavransdatter, a woman whose life is shaped by powerful acts of love, commits sins unthinkable for her time and yet manages to protect her children. "Milk brain," a friend calls these maternal deep affections that prime the intellect. Milk wisdom. Milk visions. I exist, I simply breathe.
— Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year, Harpercollins, April 1, 1995
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