• childbirth-related fear;
  • fear of childbirth;
  • contents;
  • women and men;
  • gender perspective

The content of childbirth-related fear as described by 308 women and 194 men was analyzed and compared in relation to intensity of fear. The content of fear was similarly described by women and men and concerned the following main categories: the labor and delivery process, the health and life of the baby, the health and life of the woman, own capabilities and reactions, the partner's capabilities and reactions, and the professionals’ competence and behavior. Among women, the labor and delivery process was the most frequently reported among the 6 categories of fears, whereas the health and life of the baby was the most frequent among the men. Fears related to own capabilities and reactions were described significantly more often by women with intense fear than by women with mild to moderate fear. The greatest difference between men with intense versus mild to moderate fear was a more frequent expression of concern for the health and life of the woman. Both women and men had fears related to not being treated with respect and not receiving sufficient medical care. This finding suggests that part of the problem with childbirth-related fear is located within the health care system itself.