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Women’s experiences of fear of childbirth: a metasynthesis of qualitative studies

Journal article
Authors Helena Wigert
Christina Nilsson
Anna Dencker
Cecily Begley
Elisabeth Jangsten
Carina Sparud Lundin
Margareta Mollberg
Harshida Patel
Published in International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Volume 15
Issue 1
ISSN 1748-2623
Publication year 2020
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Keywords Fear after childbirth, fear of childbirth, meta-synthesis, requests for caesarean section, women experience
Subject categories Reproductive health, Reproductive and perinatal care


Purpose: Women’s experiences of pregnancy, labour and birth are for some pregnant women negative and they develop a fear of childbirth, which can have consequences for their wellbeing and health. The aim was to synthesize qualitative literature to deepen the understanding of women’s experiences of fear of childbirth. Methods: A systematic literature search and a meta-synthesis that included 14 qualitative papers. Results: The main results demonstrate a deepened understanding of women’s experiences of fear of childbirth interpreted through the metaphor “being at a point of no return”. Being at this point meant that the women thought there was no turning back from their situation, further described in the three themes: To suffer consequences from traumatic births, To lack warranty and understanding, and To face the fear. Conclusions: Women with fear of childbirth are need of support that can meet their existential issues about being at this point of no return, allowing them to express and integrate their feelings, experiences and expectations during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth. Women with fear after birth, i.e., after an earlier negative birth experience, need support that enables them to regain trust in maternity care professionals and their willingness to provide them with good care that offers the support that individual women require. Women pregnant for the first time require similar support to reassure them that other’s experiences will not happen to them.

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