This study intended to present a systematic review to analyze the empirical studies published between 1998 and 2003 about maternal anxiety in the prenatal and postnatal periods, focusing on pre-term and term births. Nineteen studies were found; six of which evaluated maternal anxiety in the prenatal period, 12 studies evaluated anxiety in mothers in the postnatal period and only one study evaluated maternal anxiety in both periods. The results showed that high levels of maternal anxiety in the prenatal phase were associated with obstetric problems, emotional damages to fetal development, behavioral problems in childhood and adolescence. The mothers presented higher anxiety levels when compared with the fathers. The co-occurrence of maternal anxiety and depression was found. The maternal anxiety assessment is relevant to identify both maternal mental health and child development at risk.