New study shows benefits of internet-based therapy in overcoming childbirth fear

For immediate release

Oxford, May 2016

Women expecting their first child but who are experiencing severe fear of childbirth (FOC) stand to dramatically benefit in reducing their anxieties with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered via the internet, according to the results of new research.

FOC can have a devastating impact on a nulliparous woman's life, disrupting her work and home routines and even extending to social situations and relationships with people as she is overly consumed by a fear of delivering her first child. Some women suffering from the condition seek out Caesarean sections as an answer to their fears, and up to 25% of pregnant woman have FOC, according to a number of studies. In some cases, the fear is so overpowering it can be defined as an all-out phobia of delivering the baby.

For the new study, researchers took 28 Swedish-speaking women who were expecting their first baby and suffering from severe FOC. The women then actively took part in an internet-based CBT programme that lasted for eight weeks and included elements of psycho-education, breathing retraining, imaginary exposure and cognitive restructuring.

The participants were given homework that had to be submitted weekly and also gave a measurement of their level of fear about delivering their first child – using the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire, at enrolment, during the therapy and after giving birth. A therapist then gave each woman feedback via a secure online system.

The outcome of the feasibility study, which appears in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynaecology, showed a statistically significant decrease in the anxieties of the nulliparous women following the online therapy. However, the authors caution that before CBT can be determined as the definitive solution to severe FOC, the results must first be confirmed in randomised controlled studies.

Katri Nieminen, co-author of an article on the study that was published in the journal, said the findings showed that women can gain significant relief from FOC by using CBT and that it could become an effective treatment in dealing with the problem and allowing women to give birth naturally without being consumed by what are mostly irrational fears.

“This study indicates new treatment possibilities for pregnant women suffering from severe fear of childbirth,” she said.

You can read the original article free at
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/0167482X.2016.1140143

*Any views expressed in this Press Release are not those of the Taylor & Francis Group.

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For more information please contact:

Elaine Roberts

Medical Journals

Elaine.Roberts@tandf.co.uk

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Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life. As one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works our content spans all areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Science, and Technology and Medicine. From our network of offices in Oxford, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, New Delhi and Johannesburg, Taylor & Francis staff provide local expertise and support to our editors, societies and authors and tailored, efficient customer service to our library colleagues.

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