Childbirth is a major life event, but for some women, the fear of childbirth goes beyond trepidation towards full-blown anxiety and panic, known as fear of childbirth (FOC) or tokophobia. In the present study the authors investigated and compared the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that might be associated with FOC among women who previously gave birth (parous) and women who did not. A cross sectional survey was conducted among 529 women (parous women (n = 365) and women who had never given birth (n = 173). All participants completed self-report measures using an online survey system. The questionnaires assessed intrapersonal factors including attitudes toward pregnancy and birth, body image, self-esteem and life satisfaction as well as interpersonal factors namely relationship satisfaction. Multiple regression analyses revealed that among parous women age and attitudes toward pregnancy and birth, especially those that relate to body image and delivery were significantly associated with FOC. Among women who had never given birth, only attitudes toward pregnancy and birth, especially those that relate to body image, importance of pregnancy and delivery, and preference of caesarean section (CS), were significantly associated with FOC. In both groups, satisfaction with spousal relationship was not found to be associated with FOC. The results indicate that regarding FOC, intra-personal factors are more dominant than inter-personal factors. When assessing this medico-psychological fear, cognitive aspects should also be addressed.
Keywords: Attitudes toward pregnancy and birth; Body image; Fear of childbirth; Relationship satisfaction.