No relationship between fear of childbirth and pregnancy-/delivery-outcome in a low-risk Dutch pregnancy cohort delivering at home or in hospital

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2012 Sep;33(3):99-105. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2012.685905. Epub 2012 May 24.


Objective: To examine the relationship of fear of childbirth (FOC), general anxiety and depression during pregnancy and postpartum with birth complications.

Methods: For this prospective cohort study 105 healthy women with low-risk pregnancies (until at least 30 weeks gestation) completed the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire (W-DEQ) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at 30 weeks gestation and 6 weeks postpartum. These results were related with delivery characteristics.

Results: FOC during pregnancy was not related to complications during labour and delivery. In a regression analysis, both multiparity and medical interventions were predictors for higher postpartum FOC. A positive correlation was found between FOC during pregnancy and FOC at six weeks postpartum, corrected for complications during childbirth (r = 0.45, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The birth giving process was not related to FOC during pregnancy, but the pre-partum level of FOC certainly is predictive of the level of postpartum FOC, suggesting that FOC as measured during gestation may influence the interpretation of the birth experience itself. We did find a positive relationship between both parity and medical interventions during childbirth and FOC postpartum.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery Rooms
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Home Childbirth / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / psychology*
  • Parturition / psychology
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third / psychology
  • Pregnant Women / psychology
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult