Investigation of the fear of childbirth in a sample of Greek women
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International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Angeliki Antonakou   

International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A48
Aim of the study:
To investigate the fears of childbirth in a sample of Greek pregnant women as well as their effect on their everyday quality of life and their desired mode of birth.

Material and Methods:
We used a modified version of the validated Childbirth Fear Questionnaire (CFQ) after receiving the original authors’ approval. The CFQ is a multidimensional tool for assessment of the fear of birth and consists of 40 questions. We added questions about women's feelings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire was posted online through the social media between March to May 2021. Upon closure of the study period, statistical analysis was applied to the collected data.

A total of 561 pregnant women responded with a mean age of 31.9 ±4.9 years. 74.3% were university graduates, 47.1% had already one child and of those 50% had a previous caesarean birth (CB). 21.4% reported having currently a high risk pregnancy. 69.9% reported wanted to have a normal vaginal birth and only 7.3% had a strong will to have a CB. The greatest recorded fears were the fear of the baby being harmed or die during labour (CFQ score=1.98, range:0-4; Cronbach’s a=0.93) and the fear of having a CB (CFQ score=1.88, range:0-4; Cronbach’s a= 0.86). The fear of the baby being harmed and the fear of CB was significantly greater than the fear of maternal or neonatal death (p<0.001, p=0.027 respectively). 45.1% were very afraid that the way they will give birth might be affected and 57.9% were very afraid of not being allowed to breastfeed if they are diagnosed positive with COVID-19 during childbirth. A greater impact of fear on quality of life meant a higher total fear score. For those women who reported having high levels of fear, the quality of everyday life was affected; mostly parameters like bonding with their baby, the way they spent their free time and their communication with the doctor/midwife. The factors that were shown to play an important role on the overall score of fear were the number of previous births, the gestational age, the current choice of preferred mode of birth, the contribution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way that the pregnancy was conceived.

Fear of Childbirth is common among Greek women despite of their preferred way of birth and many parameters affect its intensity. The COVID-19 pandemic affected almost all parameters of fear of childbirth. Midwives and other healthcare professionals associated with pregnancy must be well educated about this phenomenon. Fear of Childbirth can lead to a seriously traumatic experience and thus have a negative impact in a mother’s mental health and, consequently, her child’s development.

No conflict of interest stated.
No funding received.
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