About this event

  • Date and time Tue 24 Jan 2023 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Maternity and the Newborn Forum

New research has recently been published utilising 4D videos to observe the behaviour of a foetus reacting to the mother’s anxiety and depression. It is now understood that the mother’s emotional state and levels of stress during pregnancy relates to early mother-infant interaction and child well-being.

During this webinar, our speakers will discuss key learnings from the research and focus on the psychobiology of pregnancy. Attendees will be able to better understand the emotional needs of the mother and foetus, so they can effectively support the mother-baby relationship pre- and postnatally.

Aims of this webinar include:

  • To learn about the psychobiology of pregnancy
  • To raise awareness of how the foetus behaves in response to the mother’s stress by observing 4D videos
  • To understand ways to support the mother-baby relationship

This webinar is available for on-demand viewing. The webinar recording will be available for registered event participants up to 60 days after the live webinar broadcast via Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

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Key speakers

Professor Vivette Glover

Professor Vivette Glover

Visiting Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology, Imperial College London

Speaker's biography

Professor Vivette Glover is Visiting Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology at Imperial College London, UK, having previously been a Professor there for many years. Originally, she studied biochemistry at Oxford University and then moved to London to obtain her PhD in neurochemistry at University College London. Vivette developed a keen interest in perinatal psychiatry and established a multidisciplinary research group with expertise in basic science, psychology, psychiatry, obstetrics and paediatrics. This group has established fruitful collaborations with others around the world, including in Australia, USA, Canada, Belgium, The Gambia, India and South Africa.


Her research has shown the effects of the emotional state of the mother during pregnancy on the developing foetus and longer term on the child, especially on neurodevelopment. If the woman is in the top 15% for symptoms of anxiety or depression during pregnancy, her child has double the risk of a probable mental health disorder at age 13 years, after allowing for a wide range of confounders. Her group have also studied the biological mechanisms that may underlie such fetal programming. They have shown alterations in the function of the placenta in response to prenatal stress, in a way that allows more cortisol to pass from mother to foetus, and can alter the development of the fetal brain. Vivette has published over 450 papers, with over 320 in peer reviewed journals and has been invited to give lectures around the world. She has been awarded the International Marcé Society medal, the John Cox medal, and the PIPUK award for Research into Pregnancy and Infant Mental Health. Her work is contributing to changes in UK government policy, and the findings of the effects of prenatal maternal mental ill health on the child has helped to lead to increased government spending in this area.

Dr Trudi Seneviratne

Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, FRCPsych

Adult and Perinatal Psychiatrist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Clinical Director, Psychological Medicine Clinical Academic Group

Speaker's biography

Dr Trudi Seneviratne has been Registrar of the College since 2020. In this role, she has overall responsibility for policy, public education, revalidation and membership engagement. She qualified as a medical practitioner in 1992, having trained both at St. Bartholomew’s Medical School and later, as a Research Registrar at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN).


Dr Trudi Seneviratne has been a Consultant Adult and Perinatal Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust since 2002. She is also the Clinical Director for the Psychological Medicine Clinical Academic Group and Lewisham Directorate at the Trust, supporting the clinical, academic and educational aspects of a range of services: general adult, liaison, crisis, rehabilitation services and specialist services: Neuropsychiatry, Eating Disorders, Perinatal.


She has collaborated on a range of activities including service development, the use of mother and infant interaction videos, quality improvement and outcomes research. She is a current member and previous vice-chair of the National Clinical Reference Group, NHS England; Chair of The Perinatal Faculty, Royal College Psychiatrists (2016-2020). In 2019, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire for services to Perinatal Psychiatry and the President’s medal of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Professor Nadja Reissland

Professor Nadja Reissland

Professor Nadja Reissland, Psychology, Durham University

Speaker's biography

Professor Nadja Reissland BSc Ma DPhil (Oxon) is a developmental psychologist and Professor at Durham University Department of Psychology. Her research interests include: prenatal development in relation to maternal stress and depression; the effects of smoking on prenatal and postnatal attachment; precursors of language development and the development of emotional intelligence.


Over the past fifteen years her career has centred on foetal development in relation to maternal mental health, and her work is now at the forefront of the burgeoning field of foetal psychology. Her research concerns foetal behavioural development in the context of light, sound and taste exposure as well as the effects of nicotine in the amniotic fluid. Through internationally peer reviewed publications she has demonstrated that maternal mental health, especially stress, depression and anxiety, affect how the foetus reacts to stimulation (controlling for gestational age). Her pioneering work on foetal facial movements and touch can be applied by healthcare professionals to better direct prenatal support in areas such as healthy eating, avoiding nicotine consumption and managing prenatal stress and depression. The work also has potential uses for obstetricians in helping to identify indicators of healthy development in utero. A YouTube video of foetal development designed for parents can be found online here: Your unborn baby and you


View the programme

Welcome and introduction

Professor Nina Khazaezadeh, Deputy Chief Midwife and Council Member, Maternity and the Newborn Forum, Royal Society of Medicine 

Prenatal stress: Effects on the foetus and the child

Professor Vivette Glover, Psychobiologist, Imperial College London 

Questions and answers

Chair: Professor Nina Khazaezadeh

Can we talk about emotional expressions in the foetus?

Professor Nadja Reissland, Psychologist, University of Durham

Questions and answers

Chair: Professor Nina Khazaezadeh

Bumps in the road: Conversations between perinatal psychiatrists and pregnant women

Dr Trudi Seneviratne, Perinatal Psychiatrist, Clinical Director, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Registrar, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Questions and answers

Chair: Professor Nina Khazaezadeh

Closing remarks

Dr Jo Peterkin, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health Team, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 

Close of meeting



Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted.  

Webinar recordings will be available for registered event participants up to 60 days after the live webinar, via Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

The agenda is subject to change at any time 

If the event is recorded, we are only able to share presentations that we have received permission to share. There is no guarantee that all sessions will be available after the event, this is at the presenters and RSM's discretion. 

All views expressed at this event are of the speakers themselves and not of the Royal Society of Medicine, nor the speaker's organisations. 

This event will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels. 

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