Cognitive functioning of women in pregnancy and early postpartum

Włodzimierz Płotek, Marta Czarnecka-Iwańczuk, Małgorzata Grześkowiak


Pregnancy and early postpartum is an extremely stressful time in a woman’s life. Emotional and cognitive functioning are mutually interconnected. The psyche also influences the physical health on the functional and physical basis. The physiological hormonal changes adapt woman to the development and labour of a child and reflect in the central nervous system functioning. In the presented manuscript, the basic psychological problems accompanying women in this period, as well as mutual relationships between the hormonal and central nervous systems during pregnancy and early postpartum have been presented.


pregnancy; postpartum; cognitive functioning

Full Text:



Bożkowa K (ed.). Encyklopedia zdrowia dziecka. Wydawnictwo PZWL, Warszawa 1994; p. 50.

Pisarski T, Skrzypczak J. Zmiany ciążowe w organizmie kobiety. In: T. Pisarski (red.). Położnictwo i ginekologia. PZWL, Warszawa 2001; p. 280–285.

Schneider H. Zmiany zachodzące w organizmie kobiety pod wpływem ciąży. In: Martius G, Breckwoldt M, Pfleiderer A. (ed.). Ginekologia i Położnictwo. Urban & Partner, Wrocław 2003; p. 71–89.

Amiel‑Tison C, Pettigrew A. Adaptive changes in the developing brain during intrauterine stress. Brain Dev. 1991;13:67–76.

Hobel C, Dunkel‑Schetter C, Roesch S, Castro L, Arora C. Maternal plasma corticotropin – releasing hormone associated with stress at 20 weeks’ gestation in pregnancy ending in preterm delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999;180:257–263.

Witkin G. Stres kobiecy. Jak sobie radzić ze stresem w latach dziewięćdziesiątych, Dom Wydawniczy Rebis, Warszawa 1998; p. 43–44.

Sowden M, Sage N, Cockburn J. Coping and Adjustment in Pregnancy: Giving Babies a Better Start. Psychological Challenges. In: Cockburn J, Pawson M. (ed.). Obstetrics and Gynecology. The Clinical Management. Springer, London 2007; p. 91–106.

Kornas‑Biela D. Wokół początku życia ludzkiego. Instytut Wydawniczy PAX, Warszawa 2004; p. 42–65.

Kinsley CH, Lambert KG. Reproduction‑induced neuroplasticity: natural behavioural and neuronal alterations associated with the production and care of offspring. J Neuroendocrinology. 2008;20:515–525.

Henderson VW et al. Prior use of hormone therapy and incident Alzheimer’s disease in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. Neurology. 2007;68:A205.

Brinton RD. The healthy cell bias of estrogen action: mitochondrial bioenergetics and neurological implications. Trends in Neurosci. 2008;31:529–537.

Pike CJ, Nguyen TVV, Ramsden M et al. Androgen cell signaling pathways involved in neurprotective actions. Horm Behav. 2008;53:693–705.

Brinton RD, Thomson RF, Foy MR et al. Progesterone receptors: form and function in brain. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008;29:313–339.

Glynn LM. Giving birth to a new brain: hormone exposures of pregnancy influence human memory. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010;35:1148–1155.

Belanoff JK, Gross K,Yager A, Schatzberg AF. Corticosteroids and cognition. J Psych Res. 2001;35:127–145.

Warrington TP, Bostwick JM. Psychiatric adverse effects of corticosteroids. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81:1361–1367.

Kirsch P, Esselinger C, Chen Q et al. Oxytocin modulates neural circuitry for social cognition and fear in humans. J Neurosci. 2005;25:11489–11493.

Oatridge A, Holdcroft A, Saeed N et al. Change in brain size during and after pregnancy: study in healthy women and women with preeclampsia. Am J Neuroradiol. 2002;23:19–26.

Buckwalter JG, Buckwalter DK, Bluestein BW, Stanczyk FZ. Pregnancy and postpartum: changes in cognition and mood. Progress in Brain Res. 2001;133:303–319.

Shetty DN, Pathak SS. Correlation between plasma neurotransmitters and memory loss in pregnancy. J Reprod Med. 2002;46:494–496.

Parsons TD, Thomson E, Buckwalter DK et al. Pregnancy history and cognition during and after pregnancy. Int J Neurisci. 2004;114:1099–1110.

Brindle PM, Brown MW, Brown J et al. Objective and subjective memory impairment in pregnancy. Psychol Med. 1991;21:647–653.

Mc Dowall J, Moriarty R. Implicit and explicit memory in pregnant women: an analysis of data driven and conceptually driven processes. J Exp Psychology. 2000;53A:729–740.

Keenan PA, Yaldoo DT, Stress ME et al. Explicit memory in pregnant women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998;179:731–737.

de Groot RHM, Vuurman EFPM, Hornstra G, Jolles J. Differences in cognitive performance during pregnancy and early motherhood. Psychol Med. 2006;36:1023–1032.

Christansen H, Leach LS, Mackinnon A. Cognition in pregnancy and motherhood: prospective cohort study. B J Psych. 2010;196:126–132.

Sahota PK, Jain SS, Dhand R. Sleep disorders in pregnancy. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2003;9:477–483.

Marcus SM. Depression during pregnancy: rates, risks and consequences. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2009;16:15–22.

Okun ML, Luther J, Prather AA et al. Changes in sleep quality, but not hormones predict time to postpartum depression recurrence. J Affect Disord. 2011;130:378–284.

Dipietro JA, Costigan KA, Sipsma HL. Continuity in self‑report measures of maternal anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms from pregnancy through two years postpartum. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2008;29:115–124.

Tiexeira C, Figueiredo B, Conde A et al. Anxiety and depression during pregnancy in women and men. J Affect Disord. 2009;119:142–148.

Beijers R, Jansen J, Riksen‑Walraven M, de Weerth C. Maternal Prenatal Anxiety and Stress Predict Infant Illnesses and Health Complaints. Pediatrics. 2010;126:401–409.

Corse SJ. Pregnant managers and their subordinates: the effects of gender expectations on hierarchical relationships. J App Behav Sci. 1990;26:25–47.

Rendell PG, Henry JD. Prospective memory functioning is affected during pregnancy and postpartum. J Clin Exp Neuropsych. 2008;30:913–919.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Medical Science

Copyright 2016 by Journal of Medical Sciences