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J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Mar;32(1):19-26. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2010.547965. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

Physical and sexual lifetime violence: prevalence and influence on fear of childbirth before, during and after delivery.

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  • 1The Juliane Marie Centre for Women, Children and Reproduction, Research Panum, Section 3341 Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.



To estimate the prevalence of self-reported lifetime violence and to assess whether women exposed to any physical violence or sexual violence (SEV) had a higher risk of having fear of childbirth (FOC) before, during or after delivery compared with women without such history.


FOC was measured at three time points in this Danish multicentre cohort study. Data were based on two self-administered questionnaires filled in by 2638 obstetrically low-risk nulliparous women together with data collected during labour. The women were grouped according to severity: never experienced violence (NEV), moderate physical violence (MPV), severe physical violence (SPV) and SEV.


In total, 426 women (16.1%) reported experience of MPV as the most vehement type of violence, another 262 women (9.9%) had experienced SPV and further 244 women (9.2%) had experienced SEV. Experience of SEV was associated with an increased risk of severe FOC after delivery compared with women from NEV, odds ratio 1.5 (95% confidence intervals: 1.02-2.27).


Women with a lifetime experience of SEV appeared with severe FOC only after delivery. Hence, healthcare personnel may need to consider women without obvious FOC during pregnancy but at increased risk, as seen in women exposed to SEV.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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