uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Sympathetic reactivity in late pregnancy is related to labour onset in women
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
2011 (English)In: Stress, ISSN 1025-3890, Vol. 14, no 6, 627-633 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Stress regulation during pregnancy is considered to be connected to the timing of labour initiation. Although increasing knowledge is emerging on the regulation of parturition, there is currently no way to predict the start of spontaneous labour in women. The main aim of this study was to assess pain threshold and the sympathetic nervous system response to cold pain in relation to the onset of labour in healthy pregnant women. Ninety-three pregnant women were recruited and assessed for skin conductance (SC) activity during a cold pressor test in gestational week 38. Pain threshold and cold endurance were also measured and the results were compared with data obtained from hospital records. Seventy-four women had a spontaneous labour onset and a valid SC measurement. SC activity during the cold pressor test decreased significantly with the number of days left to spontaneous parturition. This may indicate a gradual decrease in sympathetic autonomic nervous system reactivity even during the last weeks of pregnancy. Measuring SC activity during mild stress provocation is a rapid and non-invasive means to study variation in sympathetic reactivity during pregnancy, and may be useful in research on stress regulation in pregnancy and its relation to labour initiation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 14, no 6, 627-633 p.
Keyword [en]
Cold pressor test, initiation of labour, pain threshold, pregnancy, skin conductance, sympathetic activity
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-161450DOI: 10.3109/10253890.2011.614662ISI: 000295891600006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-161450DiVA: diva2:456701
Available from: 2011-11-15 Created: 2011-11-14 Last updated: 2013-08-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Physiological Stress Reactivity in Late Pregnancy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Physiological Stress Reactivity in Late Pregnancy
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During pregnancy, the basal activity is increased in both of our major stress response systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. At the same time, the reactivity towards stressors is reduced. These alterations sustain maternal and fetal homeostasis, and are involved in the regulation of gestational length. Although the feto-placental hormone synthesis produces the main endocrinological changes, also the central nervous system undergoes adaptation. Together, these profound adjustments have been suggested to make women’s mental health more vulnerable during pregnancy and postpartum period. The aim of this thesis was to examine factors connected to physiological stress responses during the late pregnancy in relation to pain, labour onset, emotional reactivity, and mental health.

The first study examined the pain and sympathetic response during cold stress, in relation to time to delivery. Women with fewer days to spontaneous delivery had lower sympathetic reactivity, while no pain measure was associated with time to delivery.

In the second study, acoustic startle response modulation was employed to study emotional reactivity during late gestation, and at four to six weeks postpartum. The startle response was measured by eye-blink electromyography, while the participants watched pleasant and unpleasant pictures, and positive and negative anticipation stimuli. A significant reduction in startle modulation by anticipation was found during the postpartum assessment. However, no startle modulation by pleasant, or unpleasant, pictures was detected at either time-point.

The serum level of allopregnanolone, a neurosteroid implied in pregnancy-induced hyporeactivity, was analysed in relation to self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. Although the participants reported low levels of depression, the women with the highest depression scores had significantly lower levels of serum allopregnanolone. There was no correlation between allopregnanolone and anxiety scores.

In the fourth study, the cortisol awakening response was compared between women with depression during pregnancy, women with depression prior to pregnancy, and women who had never suffered from depression. No group differences in cortisol awakening response during late pregnancy were found.

The results are in line with the previously described pregnancy-induced hyporesponsiveness, and add to the knowledge on maternal stress hyporeactivity, gestational length, and maternal mental health.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 70 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 887
acoustic startle response, allopregnanolone, antenatal, anxiety, cold pressor test, cortisol, cortisol awakening response, depression, electrodermal, estradiol, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, postpartum, pregnancy, progesterone, skin conductance, stress, sympathetic nervous system
National Category
Physiology Neurosciences Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Medical Science
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-197441 (URN)978-91-554-8636-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-17, Sal X, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Available from: 2013-04-26 Created: 2013-03-25 Last updated: 2013-08-30Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full texthttp://informahealthcare.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/10253890.2011.614662

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Hellgren, CharlotteÅkerud, HelenaJonsson, MariaSundström Poromaa, Inger
By organisation
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
In the same journal
Medical and Health Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 176 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link