Therapeutic group psychoeducation and relaxation in treating fear of childbirth

Authors


: Terhi Saisto, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Jorvi Hospital, Turuntie 150, FIN-02740, Espoo, Finland terhi.saisto@hus.fi

Abstract

Background. The increase in the numbers of women fearing childbirth and requesting cesarean sections call for new forms of antenatal treatment. Methods. Finnish nulliparous women experiencing severe fear of childbirth (experimental group, n = 102) attended 5 group sessions with a psychologist, once together with a midwife, during the third trimester. One session was held 3 months after the delivery. Each session consisted of a discussion of fear and feelings towards the impending birth and parenthood in a psychotherapeutic atmosphere and of relaxation exercises focused on an imaginary childbirth. The results were compared with those of 85 women treated for fear of childbirth by 2 appointments with an obstetrician (conventional treatment). Results. Before the sessions, among the women in the experimental group, scored fear of childbirth, on a scale of one to ten, was 6.9±2.0 (SD), which is similar to the score of those receiving conventional treatment (6.0±1.6). After the sessions, 84 women in the experimental group (82.4%) and 57 in the conventional treatment group (67.1%) chose to have a vaginal delivery (p = 0.02). The women in the experimental treatment group rated the helpfulness of the sessions 8.5±1.6 on a scale where 10 was maximum help and 1 no help at all, and mentioned “sharing their feelings” twice as often as “receiving information” as the most helpful factor in relieving fear. Conclusions. Group psychoeducation and relaxation exercises were well received and rated as very helpful. More cesarean section requests were withdrawn than in the comparison group and in previous studies.

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