An innovative study from Gregorio Marañón Hospital unveils the profound transformations in a mother's brain during pregnancy. Continue reading to explore the dynamic changes motherhood generates to the mind.

Have you pondered the impact of pregnancy on a mother’s brain? A trailblazing study by Gregorio Marañón Hospital offers enlightening insights. This article deciphers the findings of research illuminating the anatomical and functional evolution of the maternal brain from the onset of pregnancy to several years postpartum.

Published in the prestigious “Nature Neurosciencethe study unveils alterations in essential brain networks, including the Default Mode Network and attention-related areas. It presents the analysis of the brain structures of 110 women in the third trimester of their initial pregnancy compared to those who have never been pregnant, highlighting significant anatomical differences even before the child’s birth.

Anatomical Changes and Their Long-term Effects Post-Childbirth

The team at Gregorio Marañón Hospital found that the mother’s brain starts undergoing notable anatomical changes during pregnancy, with some adjustments lasting up to six years after giving birth. These changes, influenced by the delivery method (vaginal or cesarean section), significantly alter certain brain regions, enhancing self-awareness and fortifying the bond between mother and child.

This has shown that gestation, delivery and postpartum are processes that, although they occur together, involve very different hormonal, immunological and environmental changes. The study underscores the distinct hormonal, immunological, and environmental shifts across gestation, childbirth, and the postpartum phase, emphasizing their role in preventing and addressing perinatal disorders like postpartum depression.

Influence of Delivery Method on Brain Neuroplasticity

The research highlights the impact of the delivery method on the maternal brain’s neuroplasticity. With 79% of the participating pregnant women having vaginal deliveries, 11% undergoing emergency cesarean section, and 10% having planned cesarean section, significant differences were observed among the brains of mothers based on their delivery type. It suggests the relevant role of the birth process in influencing maternal brain adaptation.

Neuropsychological Insights

Additionally, the study explores how pregnancy and childbirth-related anxiety impacts postpartum mental health. A link was identified between elevated anxiety levels, adverse childbirth experiences, and heightened stress and symptoms of postpartum depression, stressing the need for comprehensive emotional and psychological support during these phases.


Pregnancy marks a transformative phase, both physically and neurologically. The discoveries by Gregorio Marañón Hospital pave the way to a deeper understanding of matrescence, offering valuable insights into the neurological reconfiguration through motherhood. Such knowledge is pivotal for enhancing the support and care provided to mothers globally.

Authors: Paternina-Die, M., Martínez-García, M., Martín de Blas, D. et al. Women’s neuroplasticity during gestation, childbirth and postpartum. Nat Neurosci 27, 319-327 (2024).