It is widely known that pregnancy affects women in many different ways. Aside from inducing powerful cravings for Chinese food and greasy pizza and pickles at 2:00 a.m., the soon-to-be mother suffers from fevers, morning sickness
and more; and her health can largely affect the baby's health as well.
There are many well known, documented links between a pregnant woman's health, behavior and moods, and her baby's cognitive and psychological development, but does pregnancy have any psychological effects on the mother
According to psychologists Laura M. Glynn of Chapman University and Curt A. Sandman of University of California Irvine, pregnancy is a critical time for central nervous system development in mothers. That’s right – you heard correctly: not central nervous system development in the babies . . . but the mothers.
Glynn and Sandman have recently published their work in the Association for Psychological Science journal Current Directions in Psychological Science
, which discusses many possible theories and findings. Your Brain on Pregnancy
The hormonal fluctuations in a woman's body that occur during pregnancy are unlike any other in her life, and thorough research suggests that perhaps these violent changes in the reproductive hormones could play a role in preparing the woman for motherhood. The expectant mother's brain could be changed so that the mother can better handle stress and become more attuned to the wants and needs of her newborn baby. Further proof lies in a common complaint of pregnant women. "Mommy brain
" is the term given to the loss of memory and impairment that occurs both before and after childbirth. Oh Baby
The study also found certain effects of the prenatal environment on the baby. For example, if a fetus has a mother who is malnourished during pregnancy
, that baby will be able to better cope with lack of food once it's born, but has an increased risk of becoming obese if it eats normally. Interestingly, if a mother reaches high levels of stress early in the pregnancy, it could lead to cognitive disabilities for the infant, but if the same stress levels were reached towards the end of the pregnancy, it would actually help to enhance
the baby's cognitive functions.
These are just a few of the findings that were discovered by Glynn and Sandman. Among other less researched findings; when a fetus moves inside its mother it raises mom's heart rate and skin conductivity, and could help pre-natal child-mother bonding. Fetal cells also pass through the placenta into the mother's bloodstream, not just the other way around as previously thought; though little else is known about the result of these cells passing into the mother.
There is much more research to be done, especially on human mothers, as most of this research has been conducted on mice. Mice are very similar to humans on a cellular level but have different pregnancies than humans.