Concerns about transmission, changed services and place of birth in the early COVID-19 pandemic: a national survey among Danish pregnant women. The COVIDPregDK study

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Abstract

Background: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused great uncertainty about causes, treatment and mortality of the new virus. Constant updates of recommendations and restrictions from national authorities may have caused great concern for pregnant women. Reports suggested an increased number of pregnant women choosing to give birth at home, some even unassisted (‘freebirth’) due to concerns of transmission in hospital or reduction in birthplace options. During April and May 2020, we aimed to investigate i) the level of concern about coronavirus transmission in Danish pregnant women, ii) the level of concern related to changes in maternity services due to the pandemic, and iii) implications for choice of place of birth.
Methods: We conducted a nationwide cross-sectional online survey study, inviting all registered pregnant women in Denmark (n = 30,009) in April and May 2020
Results: The response rate was 60% (n = 17,995). Concerns of transmission during pregnancy and birth were considerable; 63% worried about getting severely ill whilst pregnant, and 55% worried that virus would be transmitted to their child. Thirtyeight percent worried about contracting the virus at the hospital. The most predominant concern related to changes in maternity services during the pandemic was restrictions on partners’ attendance at birth (81%). Especially nulliparous women were concerned about whether cancelled antenatal classes or fewer physical midwifery consultations would affect their ability to give birth or care for their child postpartum. The proportion of women who considered a home birth was equivalent to pre-pandemic home birth rates in Denmark (3%). During the temporary discontinue of public home birth services, 18% of this group considered a home birth assisted by a private midwife (n = 125), and 6% considered a home birth with no midwifery assistance at all (n = 41).
Conclusion: Danish pregnant women's concerns about virus transmission to the unborn child and worries about contracting the virus during hospital appointments were considerable during the early pandemic. Home birth rates may not be affected by the pandemic, but restrictions in home birth services may impose decisions to freebirth for a small proportion of the population
Original languageEnglish
Article number664
JournalB M C Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume21
ISSN1471-2393
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Place of birth
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy-related concerns
  • Survey study
  • Birth Setting
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Parturition/psychology
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Midwifery
  • Spouses
  • COVID-19/psychology
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Anxiety/psychology
  • Pregnant Women/psychology

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