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Background: Around 20% ofbirthing women report high levels of childbirth fear. Fear potentially impactswomen’s emotional health, preparation for birth, and birth outcomes. Evidencesuggests that personal and external factors contribute to childbirth fear,however results vary. Aim: To identify pyscho-social factors associated withchildbirth fear and possible antenatal predictors of childbirth fear accordingto women’s parity. Method: 1410 women in second trimester and attending one ofthree public hospitals in south-east Queensland were screened for childbirthfear using the Wijma Delivery Expectancy-Experience Questionnaire W-DEQ.Other measures included the Edinburgh Depression Scale EPDS, DecisionalConflict Scale DCS and items from the EuroQol EQ-5D targetingAnxiety-Depression and Pain-Discomfort. In addition items measuring a previousmental health condition, social support and knowledge were used. Preferred modeof birth was also collected. Psycho-social factors were analysed to determineassociations with childbirth fear. Multivariate analysis was used to determinepredictors of fear. Results: Thirty-one percent n = 190-604 of nulliparousand 18% n = 143-782 of multiparous women reported high fear levels. Having amental health history, desiring a caesarean section, reporting moderate to highpain during pregnancy, having a non-supportive partner and perceiving lesschildbirth knowledge than peers, were associated with childbirth fear. Standardmultiple regression analyses by parity determined that depression, decisionalconflict, low social support and less perceived knowledge predicted levels ofchildbirth fear. The model explained 32.4% of variance in childbirth fear fornulliparous and 29.4% for multiparous women. Conclusion: Psychosocial factorsare significantly associated with childbirth fear. The identification ofpredictive psychosocial factors for childbirth fear indicates the importance ofobserving, assessing, and developing support strategies for women. Suchstrategies are required to decrease anxiety and depression for women duringpregnancy, promote normal birth, and build social support to improve women’sfeelings and positive expectations of birth.


Childbirth Fear, Predictors, Pain, Decisional Conflict, Depression, Social Support

Cite this paper

Toohill, J. , Fenwick, J. , Gamble, J. , Creedy, D. , Buist, A. and Ryding, E. 2014 Psycho-Social Predictors of Childbirth Fear in Pregnant Women: An Australian Study. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4, 531-543. doi: 10.4236-ojog.2014.49075.

Autor: Jocelyn Toohill, Jennifer Fenwick, Jenny Gamble, Debra K. Creedy, Anne Buist, Elsa Lena Ryding



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