Objective To examine fear of childbirth according to parity, gestational age, and obstetric history.
Design A questionnaire study.
Population and setting 1400 unselected pregnant women in outpatient maternity clinics of a university central hospital.
Methods Visual analogue scale (VAS) and Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire (W-DEQ) and preferred mode of delivery.
Main outcome measures W-DEQ and VAS scores according to parity, gestational age, obstetric history, and preferred mode of delivery.
Results The W-DEQ and VAS scores were higher in nulliparous (W-DEQ 72.0 ± 20.0 [mean ± SD] and VAS 4.7 [median]) than parous women (65.4 ± 21.9; 3.2, P < 0.001 for both W-DEQ and VAS). Higher W-DEQ and VAS scores were found for those beyond 21 weeks of gestation compared with those before (W-DEQ 71.6 ± 23.0 versus 66.6 ± 20.0, P < 0.001; VAS 4.7 versus 3.2, P < 0.001). Caesarean section was preferred mode of delivery for 8.1% and these women scored higher on fear (W-DEQ 87.6 ± 26.5, VAS median 7.0) than those who preferred vaginal delivery (W-DEQ 61.8 ± 18.7, VAS 2.7, P < 0.001, respectively). Those with a previous caesarean scored higher on fear (W-DEQ 73.2 ± 23.5, VAS 5.1) than parous women without previous caesarean (W-DEQ 63.3 ± 20.8, VAS 2.9, P < 0.001, respectively). Those with a history of a vacuum extraction (VE) (W-DEQ 70.6 ± 19.7, VAS 5.0) had higher fear scores than those without (W-DEQ 64.8 ± 22.0, P < 0.05 and VAS 3.0, P < 0.001).
Conclusion Severe fear of childbirth was more common in nulliparous women, in later pregnancy, and in women with previous caesarean section or VE. Caesarean section as a preferred mode of childbirth was strongly associated with high score in both W-DEQ and VAS.