Potentially traumatic events, fear of childbirth and posttraumatic stress disorder during pregnancy in Stockholm, Sweden: A cross-sectional study

Sex Reprod Healthc. 2020 Oct:25:100516. doi: 10.1016/j.srhc.2020.100516. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of potentially traumatic events (PTEs), fear of childbirth (FOC), and support for it as well as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among pregnant women attending maternal care in Stockholm, Sweden.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted. Pregnant women attending lectures in preparation for childbirth at the major hospitals in Stockholm were asked to complete questionnaires anonymously. Main outcome measures were the prevalence of PTEs, FOC, support for FOC and PTSD.

Results: One thousand one hundred fifty-seven women in late pregnancy attending lectures in preparation for childbirth at hospitals in Stockholm, Sweden, were asked to participate, 945 chose to participate, resulting in a response rate of 81.7 percent. Most pregnant women, 78.5 percent (95% confidence interval (CI) 75.6-81.3), reported having experienced at least one PTE. The prevalence of having experienced different types of violence is presented. FOC was found among 28.8 percent (95% CI 25.7-32.0) of pregnant women, while only 10.9 percent (95% CI 10.5-11.2) received support for FOC. The prevalence of current PTSD was 4.1 percent (95% CI 2.8-5.8).

Conclusions: The majority of pregnant women had experienced PTEs, and experiences of violence were common, as was FOC. Approximately one in 25 women attending general maternal care in Stockholm, Sweden, was estimated to have current PTSD. This highlights the need to prevent violence, find pregnant women suffering from FOC or PTSD, to develop an evidence-based treatment for FOC and to provide such treatment for PTSD.

Keywords: Mental Health; Parturition; Pregnant Women; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exposure to Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parturition / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology