An Italian study involving 426 women late in their first pregnancy looked at fear of childbirth and found that a particular predictor of fear was a troubled couple relationship. In contrast with findings from other studies, this study did not find that lack of wider social support was a predictor of fear – only the relationship with the partner. The only other predictor of fear found in this study was an experience of earlier anxiety on the part of the woman.
This study singled out the 90th to 100th percentile of the responses to the anxiety scale and named it “severe fear of childbirth”. The only predictor for this extreme fear is an experience of depression on the part of the mother.
Other research has shown that 20-25% of pregnant women in Europe, America and Australia experience fear of childbirth.
The study links well to our previous report on experiences of birth pain. A good relationship with a partner is a source of safety for women but if this relationship is poor, it could be generating a feeling of being unsafe, a natural response to which is fear.
Molgora S et al (2017), Fear of childbirth in primiparous Italian pregnant women: the role of anxiety, depression, and 1 couple adjustment, Women and Birth
Photo: Andrew //. Creative Commons.