Fear of birth: Prevalence, counselling and method of birth at five obstetrical units in Norway
Background: There is increasing evidence that fear of birth can have long-term effects on the childbearing woman and the method of birth. Aim: To examine differences between five hospitals in Norway in the occurrence of fear of birth, counselling received and method of birth. Method: Source data was from the Norwegian cohort of the Bidens study and retrieved through a questionnaire and electronic patient records from five different hospitals in Oslo, Drammen, Tromsø, Ålesund and Trondheim, which included 2145 women. The Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire measured fear of birth, and a cut-off of ≥ 85 was used to define fear of birth. Results: In total, 12% of the women reported fear of birth, with no significant differences between the different units. A total of 8.7% received counselling according to hospital obstetrical records, varying significantly from 5.7% in Drammen to 12.7% in Oslo. Only 24.9% of the women with fear of birth had counselling at their hospital. All the units provided counselling for women with fear, but the content varied. Overarching aims included helping women develop coping strategies like writing a birth plan and clearing up issues regarding prior births. A secondary objective was to prevent unnecessary caesarean section. Both primi- and multiparous women who reported fear of birth had a twofold increased risk of a planned caesarean section. Conclusion: There were no differences between five Norwegian hospitals regarding the occurrence of fear of birth. Counselling methods, resources, level of commitment and the number of women who received counselling varied; thus, hospital practices differed.