About six percent of pregnant women suffer from severe fear of childbirth. These women are at increased risk of obstetric labor and delivery interventions and pre- and postpartum complications, e.g., preterm delivery, emergency caesarean section, caesarean section at maternal request, severe postpartum fear of childbirth and trauma anxiety. During the last decade, there is increasing clinical evidence suggesting that haptotherapy might be an effective intervention to reduce fear of childbirth in pregnant women. The present study has been designed to evaluate the effects of such intervention.
Included are singleton pregnant women with severe fear of childbirth, age ≥ 18 year, randomized into three arms: (1) treatment with haptotherapy, (2) internet psycho-education or (3) care as usual. The main study outcome is fear of childbirth. Measurements are taken at baseline in gestation week 20–24, directly after the intervention is completed in gestation week 36, six weeks postpartum and six months postpartum. Secondary study outcomes are distress, general anxiety, depression, somatization, social support, mother-child bonding, pregnancy and delivery complications, traumatic anxiety symptoms, duration of delivery, birth weight, and care satisfaction.
The treatment, a standard haptotherapeutic treatment for pregnant women with severe fear of childbirth, implies teaching a combination of skills in eight one hour sessions. The internet group follows an eight-week internet course containing information about pregnancy and childbirth comparable to childbirth classes. The control group has care as usual according to the standards of the Royal Dutch Organization of Midwives and the Dutch Organization of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
This trial was entered in the Dutch Trial Register and registered under number NTR3339 on March 4th, 2012.
Pregnant women, fear of childbirth, haptotherapy, treatment, delivery, anxiety, well-being, childbirth outcomes
Gert A. Klabbers, Klaas Wijma, K. Marieke Paarlberg, Wilco H.M. Emons and Ad J.J.M. Vingerhoets
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