Obstetric outcome in 100 women with severe anxiety over childbirth

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1997 Nov;76(10):948-52. doi: 10.3109/00016349709034907.


Background: Extreme fear of delivery with request of cesarean section is a problem. The obstetric outcome in women given psychological and obstetric support is described.

Methods: Women, consecutively referred to the Psychosomatic outpatient clinic because of fear of delivery (n = 100), were compared to a matched reference group (n = 100).

Results: The women in the study group had higher frequency of psychic problems than the references. The majority, 68 of the women (68%) initially requested cesarean section (CS). After individualized psychological and obstetrical support, 38 of these women agreed to vaginal delivery (38%) and 30 had an elective CS (30%). In the end another 13 (13%) women had a CS for obstetric or mixed reasons. Complication rate was low and similar in the groups. The 57 women who eventually had a vaginal delivery (57%) showed an obstetric outcome similar to the reference group. They had a higher frequency of induction of labor (p = 0.02). and of epidural and pudendal blocks for pain relief (p = 0.002 and 0.05 respectively). They had shorter labor time (p = 0.05). The cost of the psychological therapy was well compensated for by the savings due to the reduction in the number of CS.

Conclusions: Psychosomatic support for women with severe fear of delivery resulted in a 50% reduction of CS for psychosocial indications and vaginal deliveries similar to a reference group. The cost of psychosomatic support was less than savings due to fewer cesarean sections.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Cesarean Section* / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / economics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Psychotherapy* / economics