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Keywords:

  • Fear of childbirth;
  • personality;
  • delivery experience;
  • anxiety;
  • pain;
  • pregnancy

Abstract

Background. Socioeconomic factors and previous experiences of delivery are known to influence pregnant women's fear of childbirth. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between stable personality traits, fear of childbirth during late pregnancy, and experience of the delivery. Methods. Self-report questionnaires were completed twice, during gestation week 34–37, and at 1-week postpartum. Comparisons were made between 85 women who had sought help from a fear-of-childbirth team, and a group (n = 177) from routine antenatal care. Correlations between fear of childbirth, personality variables and experience of childbirth were calculated. Results. The women who had sought help tended to be more anxiety-prone, more short-tempered, and lower in socialisation, although within the normal range. In spite of counselling, they reported more intense fear of delivery and fear of pain compared with the comparison group. Women with intense fear of childbirth, who were low in socialisation and high in psychasthenia, had a more negative experience of their current childbirth. Conclusion. Women with intense fear of childbirth differ from other pregnant women also in personality. Methods for treating fear of childbirth should be further developed in order to diminish the risk of a negative birth experience.