Gestational stress and resilience: Perspectives to guide interdisciplinary research

Mariann A. Howland, Dante Cicchetti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Decades of resilience research has focused on uncovering protective factors that support resilience from infancy into early adulthood. However, very little research has focused on resilience during the fetal period and the pregnancy phase in the female lifespan. This chapter aims to integrate developmental psychopathology and resilience science with fetal and maternal programming perspectives in an effort to create a roadmap for future gestational resilience research. We conceptualize maternal and fetal resilience as good or better-than-expected functioning or outcomes in the face of stress. In operationalizing maternal and fetal resilience, we draw from existing resilience research while simultaneously attending to unique aspects of the gestational period, particularly that three systems are developing in concert: fetus, placenta, and mother. We review extant research on gestational stress, resilience, and promotive and protective factors, as well as propose additional possibilities for investigation into these domains. We discuss methodological considerations for gestational resilience research and implications for prevention and intervention. We conclude that just as fetal and maternal programming research stands to benefit from developmental psychopathology and resilience science, these disciplines can be advanced by extending their scope "backwards" into the fetal period and "forwards" into the pregnancy phase of the female lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrenatal Stress and Child Development
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages45
ISBN (Electronic)9783030601591
ISBN (Print)9783030601584
StatePublished - Apr 19 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021. All rights reserved.


  • Development
  • Developmental cascades
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Fetal programming
  • Gestation
  • Maternal programming
  • Placenta
  • Prenatal stress
  • Resilience
  • Stress


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