Changes in the basic birth beliefs following the first birth experience: Self-fulfilling prophecies?

Heidi Preis*, Joseph Pardo, Yoav Peled, Yael Benyamini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women’s basic beliefs about birth as a natural and as a medical process are associated with childbirth choices and experience. These beliefs have only recently been quantified and not much is known about their development. In the current study, we assessed the differential effects of the objective and the subjective birth experience on changes in these beliefs. Using self-report questionnaires, we evaluated prenatal to postpartum changes among 342 Israeli first-time mothers. Participants were recruited during pregnancy, between February 2016 and January 2017, mostly in clinical settings, and followed-up two months postpartum. On average, women’s beliefs about birth being natural weakened following childbirth and their belief about birth being medical strengthened. In regression models, it was either the objective or the subjective experience that was related to change in the basic birth beliefs: A more medicalized birth was associated with strengthening of the medical belief while greater birth satisfaction was related to strengthening of the natural belief. A mediation effect was observed, which indicated that the beliefs are strengthened when the lived experience fulfilled women’s expectation about birth being satisfying, natural or medical. This study adds to the growing body of knowledge regarding the development and evolution of the birth beliefs. It highlights the need to view the beliefs separately and to distinctively assess the objective and subjective birth experience. It supports the need to empower mothers, especially those who had more medicalized births or unsatisfactory ones, which would help conserve their belief in their body and in the normal physiological course of birth.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0208090
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


FundersFunder number
European Cooperation in Science and Technology


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