Childhood Abuse and Fear of Childbirth—A Population-based Study

Authors

  • Mirjam Lukasse MSc,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Siri Vangen MD, PhD,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Pål Øian MD, PhD,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Merethe Kumle MD, PhD,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Elsa Lena Ryding MD, PhD,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Berit Schei MD, PhD,

    1. Mirjam Lukasse is a Doctoral Student at the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, and Research Midwife at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Siri Vangen is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Resource Centre for Women’s Health, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Pål Øian is Professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; Merethe Kumle is Senior Researcher at the Centre of Randomized Controlled Trials, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway; Elsa Lena Ryding is Senior Consultant at the Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Berit Schei is Professor at the Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
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  • on behalf of the Bidens Study Group

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    • The members of this study group are listed in the Appendix.


  • The Bidens Study was supported by the Daphne II Program to combat violence against children, young people, and women, European Commission for Freedom, Security and Justice, Brussels, Belgium (grant no. JLS/2006/DAP-1/242/W30-CE-0120887/00-87). The first author is supported for her Doctorate by the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association, Oslo, Norway.

Address correspondence to Mirjam Lukasse, MSc, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Postboks 4950, Nydalen, N-0424 Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

Abstract:  Background:  Childhood abuse affects adult health. The objective of this study was to examine the association between a self-reported history of childhood abuse and fear of childbirth.

Methods:  A population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted of 2,365 pregnant women at five obstetrical departments in Norway. We measured childhood abuse using the Norvold Abuse Questionnaire and fear of childbirth using the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire. Severe fear of childbirth was defined as a Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire score of ≥85.

Results:  Of all women, 566 (23.9%) had experienced any childhood abuse, 257 (10.9%) had experienced emotional abuse, 260 (11%) physical abuse, and 290 (12.3%) sexual abuse. Women with a history of childhood abuse reported severe fear of childbirth significantly more often than those without a history of childhood abuse, 18 percent versus 10 percent (p = 0.001). The association between a history of childhood abuse and severe fear of childbirth remained significant after adjustment for confounding factors for primiparas (adjusted OR: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.30–3.08) but lost its significance for multiparas (adjusted OR: 1.17; 95% CI: 0.76–1.80). The factor with the strongest association with severe fear of childbirth among multiparas was a negative birth experience (adjusted OR: 5.50; 95% CI: 3.77–8.01).

Conclusions:  A history of childhood abuse significantly increased the risk of experiencing severe fear of childbirth among primiparas. Fear of childbirth among multiparas was most strongly associated with a negative birth experience. (BIRTH 37:4 December 2010)

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