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Keywords:

  • childbirth fear;
  • cesarean birth;
  • birth experience;
  • prenatal counseling;
  • perception of control;
  • support;
  • treatment

ABSTRACT

Objective

To investigate the prevalence of childbirth-related fear from pregnancy to one year after childbirth and to identify factors associated with being cured of childbirth-related fear.

Design

A longitudinal regional survey.

Setting

Three hospitals in a northern part of Sweden.

Participants

Six hundred ninety-seven (697) women who completed four questionnaires.

Methods

Data were collected by questionnaires in mid and late pregnancy and at 2 months and one year after birth. Childbirth related fear was measured 3 times.

Results

There was a statistically significant increase in childbirth fear from 12.4% in mid-pregnancy to 15.1% one year after childbirth (p < .001). Women who were cured of childbirth fear reported a better birth experience and would prefer a vaginal birth in a subsequent pregnancy. These women were also more likely to experience a feeling of control during birth and were more satisfied with information about the progress of labor, but there was no difference in prenatal counseling or having an elective cesarean between the groups.

Conclusion

Women with prenatal fear of childbirth may be cured of this fear by having a better birth experience. If women feel in control of their bodies and are well informed about the progress of labor, the chances of being cured will increase. Prenatal counseling or having an elective cesarean birth does not seem to be a solution for relieving childbirth fear.