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Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Nov;98(5 Pt 1):820-6.

A randomized controlled trial of intervention in fear of childbirth.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



To compare intensive and conventional therapy for severe fear of childbirth.


In Finland, 176 women who had fear of childbirth were randomly assigned at the 26th gestational week to have either intensive therapy (mean 3.8 +/- 1.0 sessions with obstetrician and one with midwife) or conventional therapy (mean 2.0 +/- 0.6 sessions), with follow-up 3 months postpartum. Pregnancy-related anxiety and concerns, satisfaction with childbirth, and puerperal depression were assessed with specific questionnaires. Power analysis, based on previous studies, showed that 74 women per group were necessary to show a 50% reduction in cesarean rates.


Birth-related concerns decreased in the intensive therapy group but increased in the conventional therapy group (linear interaction between the group and birth-concerns P =.022). Labor was shorter in the intensive therapy group (mean +/- standard deviation 6.8 +/- 3.8 hours) compared with the conventional group (8.5 +/- 4.8 hours, P =.039). After intervention, 62% of those originally requesting a cesarean (n = 117) chose to deliver vaginally, equally in both groups. Cesarean was more frequent for those who refused to fill in the questionnaires than for those who completed them (57% compared with 27%, P =.001). In the log-linear model, parous women who had conventional therapy and refused to fill in the questionnaires chose a cesarean more often than expected (standardized residual 2.54, P =.011). There were no differences between groups in satisfaction with childbirth or in puerperal depression.


Both kinds of therapy reduced unnecessary cesareans, more so in nulliparous and well-motivated women. With intensive therapy, pregnancy- and birth-related anxiety and concerns were reduced, and labors were shorter.

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