Responses to laboratory psychosocial stress in postpartum women. Academic Article Article uri icon

Overview

MeSH

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bottle Feeding
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Lactation
  • Oxytocin
  • Pregnanolone

MeSH Major

  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Postpartum Period
  • Stress, Psychological

abstract

  • Lactation has been associated with attenuated hormonal responses to exercise stress in humans. This study was designed to determine the effect of lactation on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, autonomic nervous system, and anxiety responses to psychological stress. The Trier Social Stress Test was administered to 24 lactating women, 13 postpartum nonlactating women, and 14 healthy control women in the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Lactating women were stressed at least 40 minutes after last feeding their infant. ACTH, cortisol, heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and subjective anxiety ratings were all significantly increased in response to the psychological stress (all p <.0001). There were no differences among the three groups in any of these responses to the stress. However, postpartum nonlactating women did have a persistently higher systolic blood pressure and lower cardiac vagal tone than the lactating women and control subjects. In addition, the typical negative correlation between cardiac vagal tone and heart rate was consistently higher in lactating women than nonlactating postpartum women and controls, which suggests stronger vagal control of heart rate in lactating women. In addition, there was no change in oxytocin or allopregnanolone in response to the stress, and baseline oxytocin and allopregnanolone levels did not differ among the three groups. These results indicate that physiological and subjective responses to social stress are not attenuated in lactating women tested at least one hour after feeding their infant. However, enhanced vagal control of cardiac reactivity was observed in lactating women. In addition, postpartum women who did not lactate showed evidence of increased sympathetic and decreased parasympathetic nervous system tone.

publication date

  • September 2001
  • October 2001

has subject area

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Bottle Feeding
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Lactation
  • Oxytocin
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnanolone
  • Stress, Psychological

Research

keywords

  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article

Identity

Language

  • eng

PubMed ID

  • 11573030

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 814

end page

  • 821

volume

  • 63

number

  • 5