Transition into Parenthood and the Effects of Childbirth Education

Margaret B. Haycock


Attitudes of primiparous women toward childbirth were studied longitudinally as they varied with the intervention of childbirth education classes before delivery; and as they varied with the experience of labor and deli very and having a baby in the home after delivery. An anxiety scale was used measuring anxiety toward labor, delivery, the parenthood role, and stress on the marriage relationship. Measurement on the anxiety scale was taken prior to childbirth education when primiparous mothers ranged from 4 months to 7-l/2 months gestation. Measurement II on the anxiety scale was taken after childbirth education, one month prior to delivery. Measurement III on the anxiety scale was taken one month following delivery . The sample consisted of primiparous women selected from two Childbirth Education Classes at the Logan L. D. S. Hospital, Logan, Utah, in September and October of 1974. The following numbers of women responded on each of the three questionnaires:

Measurement I - 77

Measurement II - 69

Measurement III - 66

Total Matched sample including all three measurements - 56.

H was found that anxiety toward delivery increased significantly alter childbirth education and as time for delivery drew nearer, while anxiety toward labor decreased slightly but not significantly. One month following delivery, however, anxiety decreased toward both labor and delivery, as was expected, but anxiety toward delivery decreased to a lower level than did anxiety toward labor. It appears that these primiparous women experience more anxiety toward delivery prior to the experience, but after experiencing labor and delivery, some feel more anxious about labor than about delivery. No difference was found between any of the three measures on anxiety toward the role of parent. The participation of husbands in labor and delivery was viewed by over 90 percent of these primiparous mothers as a positive factor, on all these measurements. Earlier in pregnancy, prior to childbirth education on Measurement 1, a strong positive correlation was found between physical symptoms of pregnancy and overall anxiety level. However, this relationship seemed to disappear after childbirth education, one month prior to delivery on Measurement II. An analysis of variance showed significant variation in the anxiety or stress of the childbearing cycle on the marriage relationship with the highest stress being just prior to delivery.