Testing a biopsychosocial model of the basic birth beliefs

Heidi Preis*, Rony Chen, Michal Eisner, Joseph Pardo, Yoav Peled, Arnon Wiznitzer, Yael Benyamini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Women perceive what birth is even before they are pregnant for the first time. Part of this conceptualization is the basic belief about birth as a medical and natural process. These two separate beliefs are pivotal in the decision-making process about labor and birth. Adapting Engel's biopsychosocial framework, we explored the importance of a wide range of factors which may contribute to these beliefs among first-time mothers. Method: This observational study included 413 primiparae ≥24 weeks’ gestation, recruited in medical centers and in natural birth communities in Israel. The women completed a questionnaire which included the Birth Beliefs Scale and a variety of biopsychosocial characteristics such as obstetric history, birth environment, optimism, health-related anxiety, and maternal expectations. Results: Psychological dispositions were more related to the birth beliefs than the social or biomedical factors. Sociodemographic characteristics and birth environment were only marginally related to the birth beliefs. The basic belief that birth is a natural process was positively related to optimism and to conceiving spontaneously. Beliefs that birth is a medical process were related to pessimism, health-related anxiety, and to expectations that an infant's behavior reflects mothering. Expectations about motherhood as being naturally fulfilling were positively related to both beliefs. Conclusion: Psychological factors seem to be most influential in the conceptualization of the beliefs. It is important to recognize how women interpret the messages they receive about birth which, together with their obstetric experience, shape their beliefs. Future studies are recommended to understand the evolution of these beliefs, especially within diverse cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation351/16
Tel Aviv University


    • biopsychosocial model
    • birth beliefs
    • health-related anxiety
    • medicalization
    • optimism


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