Development, feasibility and acceptability of a parenting intervention for fear of childbirth.

Main Supervisor: Margareta Johansson 
Co-upervisor: Helena W Henriksson, Joanne Woodford, and Michael Wells

What is your educational background?
I have a bachelor´s degree in Nursing and a specialist degree in Reproductive and Perinatal health as a Reg Midwife and a master´s degree in Psychiatric Nursing with focus on perinatal psychiatry. I have also studied Evidence-Based Psychotherapeutic Method in Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Why did you apply to WOMHER's interdisciplinary graduate school?
I wanted to apply for a doctoral project based on my own interests in reproductive and perinatal health and mental health in women of reproductive age. For me, it has been natural to collaborate between professions and specialties to gain a deeper understanding and increased knowledge of how mental health can be affected for women during the perinatal period. Through this research project about fear of childbirth and how to support expectant parents in early parenthood, enables me to combine my interests in reproductive health and psychiatry and it feels exciting to do so from an interdisciplinary perspective with a focus on mental health. Doing research within a graduate school makes it possible to have access to other doctoral students and researchers early in the education and to be able to share knowledge and experiences with each other.

Tell us more about your research project?
The time for childbirth is described by parents as a life-changing event, where the experience of fear of childbirth is common. About 20% of pregnant women and 14% of expectant fathers experience some kind of fear of childbirth. Psychological stress such as the experience of fear of childbirth in parents may have a negative impact on their own mental health and their children's cognitive development. During childbirth, the partner has experienced difficulties in providing support to the woman and has lacked support in his role as a prospective parent. It is therefore important to determine which support increases parents' own ability to handle childbirth and early parenthood and that support is offered to both parents regardless of gender.

The aim of the research project is therefore to develop and assess the feasibility and acceptance of an intervention for expectant parents with fear of childbirth. The research will follow two phases: I) Intervention development and II) Pilot test to examine the feasibility of the intervention based on the MRC Complex Interventions Framework.

Through questionnaires and in-depth interviews, we will first find out parents' support needs, which support is preferred, as well as barriers and facilitators to help seeking. Based on the information we receive from the first study that is currently in progress, we will develop an intervention in collaboration with parents and health care professionals. Then the feasibility of the new intervention will be studied and the acceptance of the intervention from the perspective of the parents and the health care professionals.

What do you hope the impact of this project to be?
This research project can contribute with evidence-based knowledge about how health care can support expectant parents with fear of childbirth to get a good start as new parents. The results of this project will increase the knowledge about fear of childbirth among expectant and new parents from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Unique with this study is that fear of childbirth will be enlightened from both parents' perspectives regardless of gender. The results of this project will form the basis for a clinically complex intervention for expectant parents with fear of childbirth. An effective and accessible intervention may have the potential to significantly reduce the emotional suffering of parents, their infants, other family members and society at large. Furthermore, there is a potential to improve the relationship between parents and their children and reduce perceived fear of childbirth. In order to promote a healthy transition into parenthood, it is important that professional support is offered to both parents regardless of gender and to promote the co-parent`s participation during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.

Other information, references and links
If you would like more information, please go to our website for our first study, or email us!

Carita Nordin-Remberger

PhD student at Department of Women's and Children's Health, Obstetric and Reproductive Health Research

Last modified: 2023-10-24