Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
The influence of women's fear, attitudes and beliefs of childbirth on mode and experience of birth
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
2012 (English)In: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, ISSN 1471-2393, E-ISSN 1471-2393, Vol. 12, 55- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Women's fears and attitudes to childbirth may influence the maternity care they receive and the outcomes of birth. This study aimed to develop profiles of women according to their attitudes regarding birth and their levels of childbirth related fear. The association of these profiles with mode and outcomes of birth was explored.

Methods: Prospective longitudinal cohort design with self report questionnaires containing a set of attitudinal statements regarding birth (Birth Attitudes Profile Scale) and a fear of birth scale (FOBS). Pregnant women responded at 18-20 weeks gestation and two months after birth from a regional area of Sweden (n = 386) and a regional area of Australia (n = 123). Cluster analysis was used to identify a set of profiles. Odds ratios (95% CI) were calculated, comparing cluster membership for country of care, pregnancy characteristics, birth experience and outcomes.

Results: Three clusters were identified - 'Self determiners' (clear attitudes about birth including seeing it as a natural process and no childbirth fear), 'Take it as it comes' (no fear of birth and low levels of agreement with any of the attitude statements) and 'Fearful' (afraid of birth, with concerns for the personal impact of birth including pain and control, safety concerns and low levels of agreement with attitudes relating to women's freedom of choice or birth as a natural process). At 18 - 20 weeks gestation, when compared to the 'Self determiners', women in the 'Fearful' cluster were more likely to: prefer a caesarean (OR = 3.3 CI: 1.6-6.8), hold less than positive feelings about being pregnant (OR = 3.6 CI: 1.4-9.0), report less than positive feelings about the approaching birth (OR = 7.2 CI: 4.4-12.0) and less than positive feelings about the first weeks with a newborn (OR = 2.0 CI 1.2-3.6). At two months post partum the 'Fearful' cluster had a greater likelihood of having had an elective caesarean (OR = 5.4 CI 2.1-14.2); they were more likely to have had an epidural if they laboured (OR = 1.9 CI 1.1-3.2) and to experience their labour pain as more intense than women in the other clusters. The 'Fearful' cluster were more likely to report a negative experience of birth (OR = 1.7 CI 1.02-2.9). The 'Take it as it comes' cluster had a higher likelihood of an elective caesarean (OR 3.0 CI 1.1-8.0).

Conclusions: In this study three clusters of women were identified. Belonging to the 'Fearful' cluster had a negative effect on women's emotional health during pregnancy and increased the likelihood of a negative birth experience. Both women in the 'Take it as it comes' and the 'Fearful' cluster had higher odds of having an elective caesarean compared to women in the 'Self determiners'. Understanding women's attitudes and level of fear may help midwives and doctors to tailor their interactions with women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 12, 55- p.
Keyword [en]
Pregnancy, Attitudes, Childbirth fear, Cluster analysis, Scale
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-183245DOI: 10.1186/1471-2393-12-55ISI: 000309115600001OAI: diva2:562566
Available from: 2012-10-25 Created: 2012-10-23 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. ‘No worries’: A longitudinal study of fear, attitudes and beliefs about childbirth from a cohort of Australian and Swedish women
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘No worries’: A longitudinal study of fear, attitudes and beliefs about childbirth from a cohort of Australian and Swedish women
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Much is known about childbirth fear in Sweden including its relationship to caesarean birth. Less is understood about this in Australia. Sweden has half the rate of caesarean birth compared to Australia. Little has been reported about women’s beliefs and attitudes to birth in either country. The contribution of psychosocial factors such as fear, attitudes and beliefs about childbirth to the global escalation of caesarean birth in high-income countries is an important topic of debate.

The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate the prevalence and impact of fear on birthing outcomes in two cohorts of pregnant women from Australia and Sweden and to explore the birth attitudes and beliefs of these women.  

A prospective longitudinal cohort study from two towns in Australia and Sweden (N=509) was undertaken in the years 2007-2009. Pregnant women completed self-report questionnaires at mid-pregnancy, late pregnancy and two months after birth. Fear of birth was measured in mid-pregnancy with a tool developed in this study: the Fear of Birth Scale (FOBS). The FOBS showed promise as a clinically practical way to identify women with significant fear. A similar prevalence of fear of birth (30 percent) was found in the Australian and Swedish cohorts (Paper I). 

The Swedish women had attitudes indicating a greater concern for the personal impacts of birth and a belief system that situated birth as a natural event when compared to the Australian women (Paper II). Finally, when women’s attitudes and levels of fear were combined, three profiles were identified: Self determiners, Take it as it comes and Fearful (Paper III). Belonging to the Fearful profile had the most negative outcomes for women including higher rates of elective caesarean, more negative feelings in pregnancy and post birth and poorer perceptions of the quality of their antenatal and intra-partum care (Paper IV).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. 100 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 843
Fear of birth, attitudes, beliefs, Australia, Sweden, cluster analysis, profiles
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-185081 (URN)978-91-554-8547-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-01-18, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2012-12-19 Created: 2012-11-20 Last updated: 2013-02-11Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(379 kB)250 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 379 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Haines, Helen M.Rubertsson, ChristineHildingsson, Ingegerd
By organisation
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
In the same journal
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Medical and Health Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 250 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available


Altmetric score