Background: Previous research has demonstrated that negative childbirth expectations adversely influence perinatal outcomes. The current research builds on this with Italian mothers-to-be. Objective: The present study (1) explored the influence of cognitive and emotional variables on labour and delivery outcomes and (2) examined how individual characteristics, couple adjustment, and medical factors influence the childbirth experience. Method: 121 Italian primiparous women participated in a prospective longitudinal study where participants completed a set of questionnaires between the 32nd and 37th week of pregnancy and again 30–40 days postdelivery. Results: Binary logistic regression analyses revealed that women with negative childbirth expectations were three times more likely to experience an emergency C-section or an instrumental vaginal delivery. Furthermore, childbirth expectations predicted subjective birth experience. This relationship between expectations and delivery type and the subjective childbirth experience was weak while other variables (such as anxiety, depression, couple adjustment) did not significantly influence delivery type or the subjective childbirth experience. Conclusions: The weak relationship between childbirth expectations and perinatal outcomes renders it necessary to question the nature of the relationship found in previous research, especially considering inconsistencies of the literature on the subject. The current research makes it clear that further research is needed to understand better the relationship between expectations and perinatal outcomes in order to better improve the well-being of mothers-to-be during labour and delivery.
- delivery type
- fear of birth