Prevalence of childbirth fear in an Australian sample of pregnant women

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Toohill, Jocelyn
Fenwick, Jennifer
Gamble, Jenny
Creedy, Debra K
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2014
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Abstract

Abstract Background: Childbirth fear is reported to affect around 20% of women. However reporting on levels of symptom severity vary. Unlike Scandinavian countries, there has been limited focus on childbirth fear in Australia. The aim of this paper is to determine the prevalence of low, moderate, high and severe levels of childbirth fear in a large representative sample of pregnant women drawn from a large randomised controlled trial and identify demographic and obstetric characteristics associated with childbirth fear. Method: Using a descriptive cross-sectional design, 1,410 women in their second trimester were recruited from one of three public hospitals in south-east Queensland. Participants were screened for childbirth fear using the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire Version A (WDEQ-A). Associations of demographic and obstetric factors and levels of childbirth fear between nulliparous and multiparous women were investigated. Results: Prevalence of childbirth fear was 24% overall, with 31.5% of nulliparous women reporting high levels of fear (score =66 on the WDEQ-A) compared to 18% of multiparous women. Childbirth fear was associated with paid employment, parity, and mode of last birth, with higher levels of fear in first time mothers (p < 0.001) and in women who had previously had an operative birth (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Prevalence of childbirth fear in Australian women was comparable to international rates. Significant factors associated with childbirth fear were being in paid employment, and obstetric characteristics such as parity and birth mode in the previous pregnancy. First time mothers had higher levels of fear than women who had birthed before. A previous operative birth was fear provoking. Experiencing a previous normal birth was protective of childbirth fear. Keywords: Childbirth fear, Prevalence, Pregnancy, WDEQ-A, Caesarean section, Parity

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BMC pregnancy and childbirth

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14

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275

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© 2014 Toohill et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Page numbers are not for citation purposes. Instead, this article has the unique article number of 275.

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Nursing

Reproductive medicine

Midwifery

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