Worries About Labor and Birth: A Population-Based Study of Outcomes for Young Primiparous Women

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Pregnancy at a young age is a continuing public health concern strongly associated with socioeconomic deprivation, social isolation, and stigma. The objectives were to see whether, compared with women aged 21 or more, women aged 20 years or younger worried more about labor and birth, and had poorer maternal outcomes. Another objective was to investigate the extent to which worries about labor and birth mediated the associations between young age and outcomes.


A secondary analysis of data was conducted relating to 2,598 primiparous women's experience of maternity care in England in 2010. The survey collected data on care in the antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal periods, and sociodemographic factors. A validated checklist measured worries about labor and birth.


Compared with women aged 21 or more, women aged 20 years or younger worried more about labor and birth. The pain and duration of labor worried all women and those aged 20 years or younger were particularly worried about the uncertainty of labor onset, cesarean section birth, and about embarrassment. In logistic regression, after adjusting for potential confounders, young age was a significant independent risk factor for worries about pain and distress in labor, and self-reported depression at 1 and 3 months. However, young age was also significantly associated with having a normal vaginal delivery.


It may be appropriate to focus support on women experiencing multiple disadvantage, rather than young age alone.

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