Certain nutrients, including zinc (found in meats and fortified cereals), vitamin B-12, and folic acid, may affect memory when in short supply. But the one that has the greatest impact on a mom's memory is iron. As many as 25 percent of all pregnant women are iron-deficient. During pregnancy, not only does the baby's growth sap your stores, but the increase in your blood volume dilutes them as well. The loss of blood during childbirth (and every month from your period, when it comes back) also takes a toll. Afterward, time constraints can keep you from eating well.
To boost your iron intake:
* Eat iron-rich foods. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron is 27 milligrams for pregnant women and 18 milligrams for both nursing and non-nursing moms. The best way to meet those levels is to eat more lean red meat, iron-fortified cereals (one serving of Cream of Wheat supplies half the RDA for this nutrient), legumes (such as peas and beans), and nuts.
* To increase absorption, pair legumes with vitamin-C-rich foods, like peppers. And cook in cast-iron pots, which release some of their iron, especially if you're making something acidic, like tomato sauce. Save dairy foods for between-meal snacks because calcium inhibits absorption.
* Take an over-the-counter multi-vitamin; most contain the recommended daily amount of iron. Stay away from iron supplements (too much of it can be toxic for some people) unless your doctor prescribes them.