Tokophobia (fear of childbirth): prevalence and risk factors

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Abstract

Objective:

To identify the prevalence of and to determine the risk factors for developing a fear of childbirth (tokophobia).

Methods:

We evaluated 191 pregnant women during Parenting and Childbirth Classes. Participants were approached when attending Parenting and Childbirth Classes between June 2014 and September 2014 and were asked to complete several questionnaires related to depression (CES-D), anxiety (STAI X1 and X2), satisfaction with life (SWLS), delivery expectation/experience (W-DEQ), and specific fears.

Results:

Most (90%) of the responders were nulliparous. As many as 75% of the participants reported low to moderate tokophobia, whereas 25% exhibited high or very high fear of childbirth. Pathological fear occurred in 1.6% of the participants. The most significant was the fear of having an episiotomy followed by fear of having no control on the situation and fear of pain. An association exists between a preferred elective cesarean birth and tokophobia.

Conclusions:

The results draw attention to the need for early detection and treatment of fear of childbirth. The data may help identifying women at risk that require prenatal psychological intervention.

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