Memory in pregnancy. II: Implicit, incidental, explicit, semantic, short-term, working and prospective memory in primigravid, multigravid and postpartum women

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1999 Sep;20(3):158-64. doi: 10.3109/01674829909075590.


This study, using an information processing model of memory, made a detailed examination of the possible locus (loci) of any memory change in gravid and postpartum women using a battery of seven objective memory tests: implicit, incidental, explicit, semantic, short-term, working, and prospective memory. In addition, links were sought both between (a) self-reported data on sleep, health, and memory performance, and (b) these variables and objective memory performance. Five groups of women were tested (n = 22/23 per group), (1) primigravid, (2) multigravid, (3) postpartum, (4) non-pregnant parents with children, and (5) never been pregnant, on self-report and objective memory tests. The gravid and postpartum groups reported significantly more everyday forgetting than the non-pregnant groups but on the objective tests performed no differently from the non-pregnant groups on all tests. Sleep loss was a significant predictor of reported memory change, but not of any memory test performance, and may contribute to a perceived memory change. Pregnant women and new mothers generally should be confident of performing to their normal cognitive capabilities, but may be more affected than usual by a high cognitive load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Parity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires