Everyday Life Memory Deficits in Pregnant Women

Carrie Cuttler*, Peter Graf, Jodi L. Pawluski, Liisa A. M. Galea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Converging evidence indicates that pregnant women report experiencing problems with memory, but the results of studies using objective measures are ambiguous. The present study investigated potential reason(s) for the discrepancy between findings of subjective and objective memory deficits, as well as potential source(s) of pregnant women's problems with memory. Sixty-one pregnant and 24 nonpregnant women completed a series of memory tests which included field and laboratory measures of prospective memory. Three standardized questionnaires were used to assess subjective aspects of memory. The influence of cortisol, depressed mood, anxiety, physical symptoms, sleep/fatigue, and busyness on pregnancy-related deficits was also examined. The findings revealed objective pregnancy-related deficits on two of the field measures of prospective memory. Pregnancy-related subjective deficits were also detected on all of the questionnaires. In contrast, no objective pregnancy-related deficits were found on the laboratory measures of memory. Increased physical symptoms accounted for one of the objective deficits in memory, while depressed mood and physical symptoms accounted for two of the subjective memory deficits. Collectively, these findings suggest that pregnant women experience everyday life problems with memory that are not readily detected in the laboratory environment. The predominant use of laboratory tests may explain the myriad of previous failures to detect objective deficits in pregnant women's memory.(PsycINFO Database Record
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology-Revue Canadienne de Psychologie Experimentale
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • pregnancy
  • memory
  • prospective memory
  • physical symptoms
  • mood

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