Measuring the ups and downs of pregnancy stress

J. A. DiPietro, M. M. Ghera, K. Costigan, M. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Despite substantial interest in the effects of stress on pregnancy, few instruments are available to measure pregnancy-specific stressors. Moreover, research has typically focused on the distressing, negative aspects of pregnancy. This report examines the reliability and validity of the Pregnancy Experience Scale (PES), a 41-item scale that measures pregnancy-specific daily hassles and uplifts. The PES was administered to two cohorts of low risk women at 24, 30, and 36 weeks (n = 52) or 32 and 38 weeks (n = 137). Women perceived their pregnancies to be significantly more intensely and frequently uplifting than hassling. Internal scale reliability was high (α = 0.91 to 0.95). Frequency and intensity scores for hassles and uplifts were stable over time (r's = 0.56 to 0.83) and patterns of convergent and discriminant validity emerged between the PES and existing measures of general affective intensity, daily stressors, depressive symptoms, and anxiety. These results indicate that (1) failure to measure pregnancy-specific stress will underestimate the degree to which pregnant women experience distress and (2) measurement of only the negative aspects of pregnancy will overestimate distress and fail to portray the degree to which women are psychologically elevated by their pregnancies. Measurement of hassles relative to uplifts may provide the most balanced assessment of pregnancy appraisal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Hassles
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy stress
  • Uplifts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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