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Understanding Psychological Adjustment to Pregnancy




A light lunch with refreshments will be provided.

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Latack

The Centre for Maternal and Child Health at the School of Health Science, City, University of London welcomes Jessica Latack as part of the research seminar series.


The psychological experience of pregnancy is an important factor in maternal-foetal attachment during pregnancy, and maternal-infant attachment after birth. Quality of maternal-infant attachment is crucial, and is a well-established predictor of offspring psychopathology, as well as language, cognitive, and biological development over the course of the lifespan. Similarly, there is a well-documented relationship between maternal perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, (which may correlate with psychological adjustment to pregnancy) and psychopathology in offspring, including attachment disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and ADHD. However, how women psychologically adjust to pregnancy has not been widely examined and may be an important mechanism through which psychopathology is transmitted from one generation to the next. The aim of the current qualitative study is to better understand and characterize psychological adjustment to pregnancy as an important first step in understanding and predicting difficulties with bonding and maternal mental health in the postpartum. Women’s qualitative experiences of pregnancy and the postpartum were explored among a sample of first-time parents. Common themes arose in multiple domains, including Bodily Plasticity, Bodily Control, Bodily Pride and Satisfaction, Fear of Bodily Injury or Death, and Bodily Fusion vs. Separation. From these interviews, it appears that psychological changes during pregnancy are identifiable, and may be related to the biological changes involved in each stage of pregnancy and the postpartum. Understanding the normative and atypical psychological changes which occur during the transition to motherhood is vital for supporting maternal and infant mental health. By understanding and recognizing common psychological themes which may be particularly important and common during pregnancy and the postpartum, we have the ability to more effectively support our patients in successfully navigating this transition.

About the speaker

Dr. Jessica Latack is a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s mental health, traumatic stress reactions, and mother-infant attachment. Dr. Latack has particular expertise in the treatment of PTSD, using evidence-based approaches such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Dr. Latack has also received training in psychodynamic psychotherapy and dyadic psychotherapy with mothers and infants. She earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Michigan and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Stony Brook University. Dr. Latack completed her clinical psychology internship at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she completed intensive rotations in PTSD treatment, as well in as reproductive mental health, treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS). Dr. Latack completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Cognitive Therapy Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, and also trained at the Motherhood Center of New York. Dr. Latack is currently a visiting researcher at City, University of London, working with Dr. Susan Ayers.

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When and where

12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 1st July 2019

MG26 Myddelton Street Building City, University of London 1 Myddelton Street London EC1R 1UW United Kingdom