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Effects of pregnancy related anxiety on labour outcomes: A prospective cohort study

Abstract

Girija Kalayil Madhavanprabhakaran, K. A. Kumar, Shanthi Ramasubramaniam and Adenike Adepero Akintola

Pregnancy-specific anxiety is a key predictor of unfavorable labour outcomes; very few studies have explored pregnancy-specific anxiety as opposed to general anxiety. To determine the prevalence of pregnancy-specific anxiety across the three trimesters of pregnancy and postnatal period and to relate anxiety with labour outcomes. With ethical approval, a prospective cohort study was conducted among 500 low risk pregnant women of 18-35 years, in Kerala-India from 2004 - 2005. Anxiety measured using State Trait Anxiety Inventory and Pregnancy-Specific Anxiety Inventory and labour outcomes noted. A U-pattern display of pregnancy specific anxiety was reported across trimesters of pregnancy with highest anxiety among nulliparous childbearing women (M=134.40). Unfavorable labour outcomes such as prolonged labour, preterm labour, low birth weight and unplanned caesarean sections were associated with high pregnancy - specific anxiety. The findings suggest that pregnancy anxiety is a core predictor of many adverse labour outcomes. A routine screening of pregnancy anxiety needs to be integrated into prenatal care. Specific interventions to minimize adverse labour outcomes could be a future research area.

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