Prevalence and predictive factors for fear of childbirth in pregnant Portuguese women: a cross-sectional study

Sandra Patrícia Arantes do Souto*, Ana Paula Prata, Rosemeire Sartori de Albuquerque, Sofia Almeida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To measure the prevalence of the fear of childbirth (FOC) and determine which factors predict severe FOC among pregnant Portuguese women. Methods: An online cross-sectional study among pregnant Portuguese women aged ≥ 20 years who were recorded using a convenience sampling. Self-administered questionnaires were used for data collection: socio-demographic and obstetric questionnaire and European Portuguese version of Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire-version A (WDEQ-A). Data of 669 participants were collected successfully from June 9 to October 30, 2019. Predictive factors for severe FOC were investigated using a multivariate logistic regression analysis. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Results: The prevalence of severe FOC (WDEQ-A ≥ 85) among pregnant Portuguese women was 10%. Severe FOC was significantly associated with lower educational level, single/divorced marital status, and negative previous childbirth experience. Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that being single or divorced and having a negative previous childbirth experience were predictive variables for severe FOC. Conclusion: Pregnant Portuguese women have FOC, although with varying severity. The data suggest that marital status and women's perceptions of previous childbirth experience may be useful variables to predict severe FOC. Further research for extending the predictive factors of FOC should be refined. The results are clinically relevant for midwifery care, as they should be used in the sense of early identification of fearful pregnant women to provide adequate support strategies to reduce FOC.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100687
Number of pages7
JournalSexual and Reproductive Healthcare
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Fear of childbirth
  • Maternal health
  • Pregnant women
  • WDEQ-A


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