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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jan;9(1):11-25.

The expectant brain: adapting for motherhood.

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Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Hugh Robson Building, George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9XD, Scotland, UK.


A successful pregnancy requires multiple adaptations of the mother's physiology to optimize fetal growth and development, to protect the fetus from adverse programming, to provide impetus for timely parturition and to ensure that adequate maternal care is provided after parturition. Many of these adaptations are organized by the mother's brain, predominantly through changes in neuroendocrine systems, and these changes are primarily driven by the hormones of pregnancy. By contrast, adaptations in the mother's brain during lactation are maintained by external stimuli from the young. The changes in pregnancy are not necessarily innocuous: they may predispose the mother to post-partum mood disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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