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Keywords:

  • fear of birth;
  • attitudes;
  • beliefs;
  • profiling;
  • satisfaction;
  • Fear of Birth Scale;
  • quality

ABSTRACT

Objective

To compare perceptions of antenatal and intrapartum care in women categorized into three profiles based on attitudes and fear.

Design

Prospective longitudinal cohort study using self-report questionnaires. Profiles were constructed from responses to the Birth Attitudes Profile Scale and the Fear of Birth Scale at pregnancy weeks 18 to 20. Perception of the quality of care was measured using the Quality from Patient's Perspective index at 34 to 36 weeks pregnancy and 2 months after birth.

Setting

Two hospitals in Sweden and Australia.

Participants

Five hundred and five (505) pregnant women from one hospital in Västernorrland, Sweden (n = 386) and one in northeast Victoria, Australia (n = 123).

Results

Women were categorized into three profiles: self-determiners, take it as it comes, and fearful. The self-determiners reported the best outcomes, whereas the fearful were most likely to perceive deficient care. Antenatally the fearful were more likely to indicate deficiencies in medical care, emotional care, support received from nurse-midwives or doctors and nurse-midwives’/doctors’ understanding of the woman's situation. They also reported deficiencies in two aspects of intrapartum care: support during birth and control during birth.

Conclusions

Attitudinal profiling of women during pregnancy may assist clinicians to deliver the style and content of antenatal and intrapartum care to match what women value and need. An awareness of a woman's fear of birth provides an opportunity to offer comprehensive emotional support with the aim of promoting a positive birth experience.