[Pregnancy as a psychological event]

Med Pregl. 2004 Mar-Apr;57(3-4):144-8. doi: 10.2298/mpns0404144b.
[Article in Serbian]


Introduction: Apart from physiological and somatic changes, pregnancy is a complex phenomenon which also includes psychological and social changes. Pregnancy, especially the first one, represents a powerful psychological event. This paper deals with pregnancy as a psychological event, considering psychological changes in the course ofpregnancy as a stressful event.

Psychological changes during pregnancy: Pregnancy is always associated with changes in psychological functioning of pregnant women. It is usually associated with ambivalence, frequent mood changes, varying from anxiety, fatigue, exhaustion, sleepiness, depressive reactions to excitement. During pregnancy, changes include body appearance, affectivity and sexuality, whereas the position and role of women attains a new quality. Even thoughts of pregnancy can bring about numerous worries about its course and outcome, and especially of the delivery itself, which may be so intense that they acquire a features of phobia (which may be the reason for avoiding pregnancy).

Pregnancy as a stressful event: Pregnancy is identified as a potent stressor that can seriously affect the psychic status of pregnant women, perinatal outcome, but also psychic functioning of the new-born individual. Appropriate relationship of partners and support of the society play an important role in overcoming stress during pregnancy.

Conclusion: Pregnancy is an event that involves numerous somatic and psychological changes. However, pregnancy can also be a potent stressor. Existence of prenatal maternal stress may lead to different perinatal complications that may have long-term consequences on the newborn. In prevention of maternal stress emphasis has to be put on partner's emotional support, as well as empathy of the social environment. However, in certain cases, professional psychotherapeutic support is necessary, in form of short supportive treatment. Preventive measures should include adequate psychological support during pregnancy, especially the first one, provided for all pregnant women, but also for those women that plan to get pregnant in the near future.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology