Chased by the Past: The Relation Between Childhood Maltreatment and Fear of Childbirth

Anat Talmon*, Karni Ginzburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Although childbirth is a normative physiological experience, it may be challenging for some women and especially for those who were exposed to childhood maltreatment. The aim of the study was to examine a model underlying the development of fear of childbirth among pregnant women who were exposed to childhood maltreatment. Given that abusive acts are often directed at and experienced through the victim’s mind and body, we proposed a dual-path model, suggesting that these relations are mediated by both self-objectification and a serial mediation of disrupted body boundaries and body shame. A sample of 470 Israeli pregnant women filled out a battery of questionnaires assessing their history of childhood maltreatment, self-objectification, disrupted body boundaries, body shame, and fear of childbirth. Results from Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) indicated that self-objectification and the combination of disruptions in body boundaries and body shame significantly mediated the association between childhood maltreatment and fear of childbirth. These findings stress the integrative experience and consequences of childhood maltreatment among pregnant women. The roles of the two paths in understanding the detrimental long-term effects of childhood maltreatment and in designing effective interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalSex Roles
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • Body shame
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Disrupted body boundaries
  • Fear of childbirth
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-objectification


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