Document Type


Publication Date



In many non-human species, including primates, gestational reproductive hormones play an essential role in the onset of maternal motivation and behaviors. We investigated the associations between prepartum estradiol and progesterone and maternal behavior at 1-year postpartum in 177 women. Blood was obtained at five gestational time points and an index of quality of maternal care was determined using a well-validated mother-child interaction protocol. Women who exhibited higher quality maternal care at 1-year postpartum were characterized by unique gestational profiles of estradiol, progesterone and the estrogen to progesterone ratio; specifically by slower accelerations and levels of these hormone trajectories beginning in midgestation. Further, it appeared that both fetal sex and parity moderated these findings, with first time mothers and mothers of females showing stronger associations. In sum, these data document persisting associations between prepartum hormone profiles and human maternal behavior. More broadly, these findings add to the growing literature highlighting the perinatal period as one of critical neurodevelopment in the lifespan of the human female.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Hormones and Behavior. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version will be subsequently published in Hormones and Behavio in 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.07.002

The Creative Commons license below applies only to this version of the article.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.