Psychological and psychosomatic disorders during pregnancy and childbirth: a review of contemporary international researches



In recent decades, the increasing worldwide problems in the reproductive sphere of people, the problem of preserving reproductive health of the population has become very topical, it requires joint medical and psychological efforts. This article presents a review of more than 70 modern English-language scientific publications devoted to the study of psychological and psychosomatic peculiarities of men, women and couples with reproductive disorders and psychological predictors and consequences of these problems. The best known and the least explored psychological aspects of reproductive disorders are highlighted, the results of research are described, also R. Linder’s psychotherapeutic method of preventing premature births is outlined. The article has two parts: the first part presents the research of psychosomatic aspects of male and female reproductive diseases, including infertility; the second one is devoted to psychological and psychosomatic disorders of women during pregnancy and childbirth

General Information

Keywords: reproductive disorders, infertility, stress, psychosomatics, anxiety, high-risk pregnancy, obstetrics complications, habitual miscarriage, premature birth, psychology of reproduction

Journal rubric: Clinical Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Lantsburg M.E., Krysanova T.V., Solovyeva E.V. Psychological and psychosomatic disorders during pregnancy and childbirth: a review of contemporary international researches [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2016. Vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 78–87. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2016050210. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Anxiety in early pregnancy: prevalence and contributing factors [Electronic resource]. C. Rubertsson, J. Hellström, M. Cross, G. Sydsjö. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 2014. Vol. 17, № 3, pp. 221–229. Available at: (Accessed: 15.11.2015). doi: 10.1007/s00737-013-0409-0
  2. Anxiety, depression and saliva cortisol in women with a medical disorder during pregnancy. N. King, J. Chamers, K. O'donnell, S.R. Jayaweera, Glover V. Williamson. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 2010. Vol. 13, № 4, pp. 339–384. doi 10.1007/s00737-009-0139-5
  3. Aplin J. Maternal influences on placental development. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2000. Vol, no. 11. Р. 107–116. doi:10.1006/scdb.2000.0157
  4. Caesarean section on request: Are there loco-regional factors influencing maternal choice? An Italian experience. A. Mancuso, A. De Vivo, G. Fanara, A. Albiero, A.M. Priolo, A. Giacobbe, M. Franchi. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2008. Vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 382–385. doi 10.1080/01443610802091545
  5. Depressive symptoms predict exaggerated inflammatory responses to an in vivo immune challenge among pregnant women. L.M. Christian, A. Franco, J.D. Iams, J. Sheridan, R. Glaser. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 2010. Vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 49–53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.05.055
  6. Does stress influence early pregnancy loss? D.B. Nelson, J.A. Grisso, M.M. Joffe [et al.]. Annals of Epidemiology, 2003. Vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 223–229. doi: 10.1016/S1047-2797(02)00419-2
  7. First-time mothers' wish for a planned caesarean section [Electronic resource]: Deeply rooted emotions. M. Sahlin, A.K. Carlander-Klint, I. Hildingsson, I. Wiklund. Midwifery, 2013. Vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 447–452. Available at: (Accessed: 20.11.2015). doi 10.1016/j.midw.2012.02.009
  8. Gavin A.R., Nurius P., Logan-Greene P. Mediators of Adverse Birth Outcomes Among Socially Disadvantaged Women [Electronic resource]. Journal of Women's Health, 2012. Vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 634–642. Available at: (Accessed: 20.11.2015). doi: 10.1089/jwh.2011.2766
  9. Increased levels of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in preeclampsia. T. Todros, S. Bontempo, E. Piccoli, F. Ietta, R. Romagnoli, M. Biolcati, M. Castellucci, L. Paulesu. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 2005. Vol. 123, no. 2, pp. 162–166. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2005.03.014
  10. Johnson R. C., Slade P. Obstetric complications and anxiety during pregnancy: Is there a relationship?. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2003. Vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 1–14. DOI: 10.3109/01674820309042796
  11. Johnson R.C., Slade P. Does fear of childbirth during pregnancy predict emergency caesarean section?. International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2002. Vol. 109, no. 11, pp. 1213–1221. doi 10.1046/j.1471-0528.2002.01351.x
  12. Linder R. How Women Can Carry Their Unborn Babies to Term – The Prevention of Premature Birth Through Psychosomatic Methods. Journal of Prenatal And Perinatal Psychology And Health. 2006. Vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 293–304.
  13. Linder R. Overcoming Somatic and Psychological Difficulties: New Experiences from an Integrated Linkage of Obstetrics and Psychotherapy. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, 2010. Vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 201–215.
  14. Loss of a close family member the year before or during pregnancy and the risk of placental abruption: a cohort study from Denmark and Sweden. K.D. Lászlo, C.V. Ananth, A.K. Wikström, Li J. Svensson. Psychological Medicine, 2014. Vol. 44, no. 9 , pp. 1855–1921. doi: 10.1017/S0033291713002353
  15. Marín-Morales D., Carmona-Monge F.J. Personality, depressive symptoms during pregnancy and their influence on postnatal depression in Spanish pregnant Spanish women. Anales de Psicología, 2014. Vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 908–915. doi:10.6018/analesps.30.3.153101
  16. Maternal positive affect over the course of pregnancy is associated with the length of gestation and reduced risk of preterm delivery. A. Voellmin, S. Entringer, N. Moog, P.D. Wadhwa, C. Buss. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2013. Vol. 75, no. 4, pp. 336–340. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2013.06.031
  17. McCrory C., McNally C. The Effect of Pregnancy Intention on Maternal Prenatal Behaviours and Parent and Child Health: Results of an Irish Cohort Study. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 2013. Vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 208–215. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12027
  18. Pearce B.D. The role of a unique immunohormonal molecule (MIF) in depression during pregnancy. NARSAD’s 16th annual scientific symposium. New York City, 2004.
  19. Preeclampsia is associated with abnormal expression of adhesion molecules by invasive cytotrophoblasts. Y. Zhou Y., C.H. Damsky, K. Clin, S.J. Fisher. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1993, no. 91, no. 3, pp. 950–960. doi: 10.1172/JCI116316
  20. Prenatal maternal stress is associated with delivery analgesia and unplanned cesareans. T.A. Saunders, M. Lobel, C. Veloso, B.S. Meyer, Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2006. Vol. 27, no. 3. Р. 141–146.  doi: 10.1080/01674820500420637
  21. Psychosocial predictors of successful delivery after unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortions: a cohort study. Y. Nakano, M. Oshima, M. Sugiura-Ogasawara, K. Aoki, T. Kitamura, T.A. Furukawa. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2004, no. 109, pp. 440–446. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0047.2004.00273.x
  22. Risk of Spontaneous Preterm Birth in Relation to Maternal Depressive, Anxiety and Stress Symptoms. S.E. Sanchez, G.C. Puente, G. Atencio, C. Qiu, D. Yanez, B. Gelaye, M.A. Williams. Journal of Reproduction Medicine, 2013. Vol. 58, no. 1–2, pp. 25–33.
  23. Saisto T. Obstetric, psychological and pain-related background, and treatment of fear of childbirth. Academic Dissertation. University of Helsinki, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine. Helsinki, 2011. 77 p.
  24. Sejourne N., Callahan S. Women's motivations to give birth with or without epidural analgesia. Journal de Gynecologie Obstetrique et Biologie de la Reproduction, 2013. Vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 56–63. doi 10.1016/j.jgyn.2012.03.007.
  25. Serum macrophage migration inhibitory factor in the prediction of preterm delivery. B.D. Pearce, S.E. Garvin, J. Grove, E.A. Bonney, D.J. Dudley, D.E. Schendel, P. Thorsen. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2008. Vol. 199, no. 46, pp. 41–46.
  26. Stark M.A., Brinkley R.L. The relationship between perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors in high-risk pregnancy. Journal Of Perinatal And Neonatal Nursing, 2007. Vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 307–314.
  27. Stress neuropeptides in the human endometrium: Paracrine effects on cell differentiation and apoprosis. Gravantis A., Makrigiannakis A., Chatzaki E. et al.. Hormones, 2002, no.1 (3), pp.139–148.
  28. The association between prenatal stress and preterm delivery: an interdisciplinary research. Grandi C., Gonzalez M.A ., Naddeo S., Basualdo N., Salgado M.P.. Pediatric Research, 2009. Vol. 65, no. 4, pp. 480–489.
  29. The Effects of Preeclampsia on Perinatal Risks and Infant Temperaments Among Mothers With Antenatal Depression. Y. Nomura, J. Finik, J. Salzbank, J. Ly, N. Huynh, T. Davey, M. Dineva, A. Abelow, C. Flores, R. Daniel, H. Loudon, J. Stone, P. Pierre, G. Eglinton, J. Newcorn. Psychology Research, 2014. Vol. 4, no. 6. Р. 451–461.
  30. The influence of women’s fear, attitudes and beliefs of childbirth on mode and experience of birth [Electronic resource]. H.M. Haines, C. Rubertsson, J.F. Pallant, I. Hildingsso. Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2012. Available at: (Accessed: 20.11.2015). doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-12-55

Information About the Authors

Marina E. Lantsburg, PhD in Biology, Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology Chair, the Head of Centre of Perinatal Psychology of the Educational Psychology Faculty, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Tatiana V. Krysanova, perinatal psychologist, Center for Preparations for Childbirth and Parenthood "The Solar Circle", Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Elena V. Solovyeva, PhD in Psychology, Applicant, Chair of Age Psychology, Department of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education (MSUPE), Moscow, Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



Total: 5920
Previous month: 27
Current month: 4


Total: 14731
Previous month: 166
Current month: 18