Predictors of fear of childbirth and depressive symptoms among pregnant women: a cross-sectional survey in Pwani region, Tanzania

Agnes Fredrick Massae, Margareta Larsson, Sebalda Leshabari, Columba Mbekenga, Andrea Barnabas Pembe, Agneta Skoog Svanberg

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many women experience fear of childbirth (FoB) and depressive symptoms (DS) during pregnancy, but little is known about FoB among Tanzanian women. The current study aimed to assess the prevalence of FoB and DS among pregnant women and determine predictors of each and both, focusing on sociodemographic and obstetric predictors. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at six health facilities in two districts in Tanzania between 2018 and 2019. In total, 694 pregnant women with gestational age between 32 and 40 weeks and expecting vaginal delivery were consecutively recruited and assessed for FoB and DS. We collected data through interviews using 6 and 4-points Likert Scale of the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire Version A and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, respectively. Women who scored ≥66 and ≥ 10 were categorised as having FoB and DS, respectively. We performed multivariable logistic regression to investigate the predictors of FoB and DS. Results: The prevalence rates of FoB and DS among pregnant women were 15.1 and 17.7%, respectively. FoB and DS were more likely in women aged above 30 years [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 6.29, 95%CI 1.43–27.84] and in single mothers (AOR 2.57, 95%CI 1.14–5.78). Women with secondary education and above (AOR 0.22, 95%CI 0.05–0.99) and those who had given birth previously (AOR 0.27, 95% CI 0.09–0.87) were less likely to have FoB in combination with DS Women who had previous obstetric complications, and those who did not receive any social support from male partners in previous childbirth were more likely to have FoB and DS. FoB was strongly associated with DS (AOR 3.42, 95%CI 2.12–5.53). DS only was more common in women who had inadequate income (AOR 2.35, 95%CI 1.38–3.99) or had previously experienced a perineal tear (AOR 2.32, 95%CI 1.31–4.08). Conclusions: Not having a formal education, having only primary education, being aged above 30 years, being single, being nulliparous, having experienced obstetric complications, and having a lack of social support from a male partner during previous pregnancy and childbirth were predictors of FoB and DS during pregnancy. FoB and DS were strongly associated with each other. It is vital to identify at-risk women early, to offer support during pregnancy and childbirth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number704
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Childbirth
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Fear of childbirth
  • Predictors
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Tanzania


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