• pregnancy;
  • fear of childbirth;
  • post-traumatic stress;
  • counseling;
  • cesarean section

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2003; 82: 10–17. © Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2003

Background.  The aim of this clinical evaluation was to study birth experience, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and satisfaction with care in new mothers who had consulted specially trained midwives because of a fear of childbirth during pregnancy.

Methods.  Sixty-two women were eligible for the study, of whom 53 (85%) participated at 1–14 months postpartum. For comparison, a group of 53 women were matched for parity and mode of delivery. All 106 women completed two self-rating scales, the Wijma Delivery Experience Questionnaire (W-DEQ) and the Impact of Event Scale (IES), and answered several open questions about their opinion of the antenatal preparation given.

Results.  Those women who had been treated for fear of childbirth reported a rather more frightening experience of delivery, and more frequent symptoms of post-traumatic stress related to delivery than did the women in the comparison group. Nevertheless, satisfaction with care was manifest in the study group.

Conclusions.  Women who seek help for fear of childbirth are a vulnerable group. Because the counseling received by the women in this study did not accord them the same positive experience of childbirth as the average parturient at the unit, more effective forms of treatment may be necessary. However, as most of the women were very satisfied with their care and with the outcome, one may assume that the care given had improved their situation to some degree.