Pre-and postpartum levels of childbirth fear and the relationship to birth outcomes in a cohort of Australian women

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 2009, 18 (5), pp. 667 - 677
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Aim. To investigate pre- and postpartum levels of childbirth fear in a cohort of childbearing women and explore the relationship to birth outcomes. Background. While results are mixed, there is evidence that fear of childbirth is associated with mode of birth. Limited theoretical work around childbirth fear has been undertaken with Australian women. Design. A prospective correlation design. Method. Women (n = 401) completed the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire (W-DEQ) version A at 36 weeks gestation, with 243 (61%) women also completing version B at six weeks postpartum. Scores were summarised with means and standard deviations. Content analysis of the free statements identified nine issues of concern. Results. Twenty-six per cent of pregnant women reported low levels of childbirth fear, 48% were moderately fearful and 26% were highly fearful. Fear decreased after birth for those women in the high antenatal fear group, however surgical intervention at birth (n = 238, ANOVA, F1,230 = 12[middle dot]39, p = 0[middle dot]001) and suspected fetal compromise (F1,230 = 4[middle dot]33, p = 0[middle dot]039) increased levels of postpartum fear. Univariately, high antenatal fear was associated with emergency caesarean delivery (n = 324, Wald 5[middle dot]05, p = 0[middle dot]025) however after adjustment for nulliparity and fetal compromise the association disappeared.
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