Predictors of a positive childbirth experience

Birth. 1989 Jun;16(2):59-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536x.1989.tb00862.x.


Knowledge of childbirth, fears regarding pregnancy, locus of control, state anxiety, expectation of pain, and confidence in ability to control pain were examined as possible predictors of positive childbirth experience. Self-reports of these variables were collected from 30 primiparous women enrolled in prenatal courses, on three occasions: before the first class, after the last class, and 24 to 48 hours after delivery. The number of women completing postdelivery measures was 21. It was found that those who demonstrated greater knowledge of childbirth and higher confidence after classes subsequently reported a less painful childbirth. Of interest, those with higher levels of childbirth-related fear before classes reported experiencing less anxiety during labor and delivery. It was suggested that these women may have recognized and dealt with their concerns earlier. Psychologic factors that appear to be most predictive of a positive childbirth experience include knowledge, confidence, and anxiety. The present findings support the current emphasis in prenatal education on imparting knowledge, instilling confidence, and providing a forum for dealing with childbirth-related fears.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Labor, Obstetric / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Pregnancy