Did everyone change their childbirth plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic? A web-based cross-sectional survey of Polish pregnant women

J Adv Nurs. 2023 Jul;79(7):2664-2674. doi: 10.1111/jan.15621. Epub 2023 Mar 9.


Background and aim: With the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus, a significant impact has been observed on the functioning of healthcare systems and the process of childbirth. Women probably did not even have a choice to adjust their plans accordingly to the current situation. The aim of the study was to examine how the outbreak of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic state affected the decisions of pregnant women about their childbirth plan.

Design: This cross-sectional study was performed using a web-based survey published on social media in Poland.

Methods: The cross-sectional study was performed using web-based questionnaires. The study group included Polish women who changed their childbirth plans, compared to a group of women not sure about delivery plan change and those whose plans had not changed. The data were collected from 4 March 2020 to 2 May 2020, when the first rising count of new infections was observed in Poland and worldwide. Statistical analysis was performed using STATISTICA Software, Inc., 13.3 (2020).

Results: Of 969 women who completed the questionnaire and were enrolled into the study, 57.2% had not changed their childbirth plans (group I), 28.4% had changed their plans (group II), and 14.4% of respondents answered "not sure" to this question (group III). The majority of women changed their birth plans during the pandemic because of the potential absence of their partner during labour (56% of women who had changed their plans and 48% of those whose answer was "I am not sure", p < .001). Another reason was the fear of separation from the child after delivery (33% of women who had changed their plans and 30% of those whose answer was "I am not sure", p < .001).

Conclusion: Restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak have influenced the childbirth plans of pregnant women. The changes were independent of women's vision of birth before the pandemic.

Impact: The restriction on births with accompanying person and the risk of separation from their infant after childbirth significantly influenced the decision-making process. As a result, some women were more likely to opt for a home birth with or even without medical assistance.

Patient or public contribution: The study participants were women who were pregnant at the time of completing the questionnaire, were over 18 years old and spoke Polish.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; anxiety; home childbirth; lockdown; parturition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Parturition
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires