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Psychology of pregnancy: this changes the mind of the pregnant woman

Psychology of pregnancy: this changes the mind of the pregnant woman

January 25, 2022

The branch of psychology that deals with pregnancy is the Psychology of Pregnancy, which seeks to promote the welfare of the mother during pregnancy, delivery and the puerperium, as well as the psycho-emotional development of the baby.

The Psychology of Pregnancy is interested in the mother-baby relationship , understanding it as a unit where the mental health of the mother is closely related to the health of the baby. The aim is, therefore, to promote the well-being of the mother-baby dyad, which also includes the father, especially in his role of emotional support for the mother. Let's see what this interesting branch of psychology consists of and what it studies.

The history of the nine months prior to the birth of the human is probably much more interesting and contains more momentous events than the next 70 years. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1840.


  • Related article: "Anxiety during pregnancy: causes, symptoms and how to manage it"

The importance of the Psychology of Pregnancy

From the physical conception, and even before , when the future baby is being conceived in the minds of their parents, a process of transformation of their psyche begins, fundamentally of the woman, which will accelerate during the pregnancy, and will be consolidated during the months and years following the birth .

Pregnancy is conceived as a moment of crisis from which the pregnant woman will develop a new identity: she will become a mother. During this period, it is common to review childhood itself, whose memories emerge easily.


So do the wounds of the past, making pregnancy a privileged time for psychotherapeutic work, since those wounds, which have sometimes burdened life for years, can heal much more quickly.

It is a period of increasing sensitivity, and of great vulnerability, for which they acquire vital importance the care provided by the immediate environment, the couple and the family , as well as by health system professionals.

Emotional ambivalence

During pregnancy they are frequent, and totally normal, the occasional depressive feelings . There is usually emotional ambivalence, that is, the coexistence of alternate moments of great joy and happy expectation, with others of fears and doubts about whether the right decision has been made, whether it is a good time to interrupt the professional career, or if you will be able to take responsibility for motherhood.


Although these ambivalent feelings are normal, it is advisable to pay special attention to the state of mind during pregnancy, and in the face of persistent negative emotions seek psychological help .

Psychological alterations in pregnancy

Several studies show a high prevalence of depressive episodes during pregnancy. Some talk about 10%, while others find that up to 40% of pregnant women suffer some type of depressive symptom.

Although postpartum depression is better known, around half the postpartum depressions begin during pregnancy . That is why taking care of the mental health of women during this period is highly recommended also from the point of view of the prevention of future disorders, as it has a positive effect on the welfare of the mother-baby dyad during the first months.

These four questions can serve as a first orientation to detect possible difficulties. Although we must bear in mind that each case is unique and full of nuances, if you answer positively to any of them, it would be advisable to go deeper into the psychological evaluation of your case:

• Have you often felt depressed, depressed or hopeless? • Have you often felt that you have lost interest and pleasure in doing things ? • Have you often felt nervous, anxious, or overwhelmed? • Have you felt unable to control or stop your worries ?

Neuroscience of pregnancy

If we take into account the discoveries of neuroscience, and of the deep process of transformation of your brain produced by the action of hormones , it is not surprising that in the mind of the pregnant woman there is a real emotional tsunami.

To begin with, it has been found that the brain during pregnancy reduces its volume by up to 7%. Does that mean that we lose cognitive abilities during pregnancy? If that were the case, nature would behave quite anomalously.

Conversely, what happens is an intense brain restructuring , similar to the one that takes place during puberty.In fact, during adolescence and pregnancy a similar synaptic pruning occurs, associated with the intense life crisis and the change of identity that both moments of life suppose.

It has been shown to increase the size of the pineal gland, and the gray matter in the brain areas related to maternal behavior. That is, with empathy , and the theory of the mind, which is the ability to understand what the other feels.

The change is so important that comparing the image of the brain of a woman who is pregnant, with that of another woman who is not pregnant, an expert in the field can say with 100% certainty which of the two corresponds to each image. The changes are clear and obvious, and can be seen at a glance.

Some pregnant women they perceive a decrease in memory and the capacity for concentration and attention . However, the studies seem to indicate that what is produced rather is a change in the attentional focus. The baby and its care, since it is in the womb, monopolize the attention of the woman, who during this period can forget more frequently, for example, where she has left the keys.

Apparently, not only is there no cognitive deficit, but it is known that the interaction with the baby is able to create new neurons in the mother's brain . Thus, given the intense nature of the changes produced in the pregnant woman's brain and psyche, which will lead her to the development of her identity as a mother, it is of vital importance to emphasize emotional care during pregnancy. Without forgetting that the welfare of the mother is also a source of health, present and future, for her son.

To learn more...

In Advance Psychologists a workshop on the Psychology of Pregnancy is given, aimed at pregnant women who want to go deeper into this topic , to live their pregnancy and face the birth in a positive way. If you are interested you can register at the following link: //www.avancepsicologos.com/taller-de-psicologia-del-embarazo/

  • Article written by Sandra del Bosque Andrés , psychologist Advance Psychologists

Author: Sandra del Bosque Andrés.

Bibliographic references:

  • Hoekzema, E .; Barba-Müller, E., Pozzobon, C .; Picado, M., Lucco, F., García-García, D., Soliva, J.C .; Tobeña, A .; Desco, M .; Crone, E.A., Ballesteros, A., Carmona, S., Vilarroya, O. (2016). "Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure". Nature Rev. Neuropscience.
  • Joan Raphael-Leff. (2010). Healthy Maternal Ambivalence Studies in the Maternal 2 (1).

Can Giving Birth Permanently Change Your Brain? (January 2022).


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