Pregnant women's fear of childbirth in midwife- and obstetrician-led care in Belgium and the Netherlands : test of the medicalization hypothesis
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
New York, NY [etc.]
Women & health : the journal of women's health care / Society of Chemical Industry. - New York, NY [etc.]
, p. 220-239
Fear of childbirth has gained importance in the context of increasing medicalization of childbirth. Belgian and Dutch societies are very similar but differ with regard to the organization of maternity care. The Dutch have a high percentage of home births and low medical intervention rates. In contrast, home births in Belgium are rarer, and the medical model is more widely used. By comparing the Belgian and Dutch maternity care models, the association between fear of childbirth and medicalization can be explored. For this study an antenatal questionnaire was completed by 833 women at 30 weeks of pregnancy. Fear of childbirth was measured by a shortened Dutch version of the Childbirth Attitudes Questionnaire. A four-dimensional model with baby-related, pain and injuries-related, general and personal control-related, and medical interventions and hospital care-related fear, fitted well in both countries. Multiple regression analysis showed no country differences, except that Belgian women in midwife-led care were more fearful of medical interventions and hospital care than the Dutch. For the other dimensions, both Belgian and Dutch women receiving midwifery care reported less fear compared to those in obstetric antenatal care. Hence, irrespective of the maternity care model, antenatal care providers are crucial in preventing fear of childbirth.