Objective: Assessment of general anxiety during pregnancy may underestimate anxiety specifically related to pregnancy. Pregnancy anxiety rather than general anxiety has been shown to predict birth outcome and neuroendocrine changes during pregnancy. Therefore, a questionnaire on pregnancy anxieties was used to test their structure, and to examine their associations with general anxiety and depression.
Method: Nulliparous pregnant women with a normal risk status (N=230) filled in a 34-item questionnaire on pregnancy-related anxiety and other questionnaires covering general anxiety and depression. These questionnaires were filled in at 15-17, 27-28, and 37-38 weeks of gestation.
Results: A three-factor model of pregnancy anxiety was found by means of confirmatory factor analysis, reflecting 'fear of giving birth', 'fear of bearing a handicapped child' and 'concern about one's appearance'. General anxiety and depression measures explain only a small part of the variance of these fears.
Conclusion: Pregnancy anxiety should be regarded as a relatively distinctive syndrome. Its measurement enables researchers and clinicians to address issues of prediction, identification and risk reduction more precisely and perhaps more effectively in the future.