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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2018 Nov 15. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13503. [Epub ahead of print]

Reproduction, fear of childbirth and obstetric outcomes in women treated for fear of childbirth in their first pregnancy: A historical cohort.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Värnamo County Hospital, Värnamo, Sweden.



About 8% of the pregnant women in Sweden receive counseling for fear of childbirth (FOC) during pregnancy. Little is known about the long-term reproductive and obstetric outcomes after counseling for FOC: Therefore, the objective of this historical cohort study was to compare the long-term reproductive and obstetric outcomes in women treated for FOC in their first pregnancy to women without FOC.


All nulliparas consecutively referred for treatment of severe FOC between 2001 and 2007 (n = 608) were compared with all other nulliparas giving birth on the same day (n = 431). Women who were not fluent in Swedish, missing a postal address, had moved out of the area, given birth at another hospital or had a late spontaneous abortion were excluded (n = 555). A total of 235 women agreed to participate in the study, 63 (39%) women in the index group and 172 (53%) in the reference group. The women were contacted by letter in 2015, ie 7-14 years after first childbirth, and asked to permit access to their medical charts from pregnancies and childbirths and to fill out a study specific questionnaire. Based on data from the medical charts and questionnaire, the mode of delivery, birth experience, obstetric complications, FOC, counseling for FOC and number of childbirths were compared in the two groups.


Women in the index group less often gave birth more than twice compared with the reference group (8.2% vs 22.0%, P = 0.012). We found no significant differences in complications during subsequent pregnancies and deliveries. Women in the index group more often gave birth by CS in their first (P = 0.002) and second childbirth (P = 0.001), more often had a less positive birth experience (index group NRS: median 6.0, interquartile range 6 vs reference group NRS: 7.0, interquartile range 5, P = 0.004) in their first delivery and more often received counseling for FOC (58.7% vs 12.5%, P < 0.001) in subsequent pregnancies. Women in the index group more often experienced FOC (18% vs 5.3%, P = 0.001) 7-14 years after first childbirth.


FOC is not easily treated. Despite treatment and exposure to childbirth many women received treatment in their next pregnancy and still suffered from FOC 7-14 years after the first childbirth.


birth experience; cesarean section on maternal request; counseling; fear of childbirth


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