Contributors to COVID-19-Related Childbirth Anxiety among Pregnant Women in Two Pandemic Waves

Orit Taubman–Ben-Ari, Miriam Chasson, Hilit Erel-Brodsky, Salam Abu-Sharkia, Vera Skvirsky, Eran Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


COVID-19 has impacted all levels of daily life for people everywhere, with particularly serious implications for pregnant women. This paper examines the COVID-19-related childbirth anxiety (CCA) of Israeli women in the first two waves of the pandemic. We first present two psychotherapeutic case studies with pregnant women in the two waves. This is followed by an empirical study that compared the contribution of background variables, psychological distress, economic concerns, and personal resources to CCA in two samples, Wave 1, March–April 2020 (n = 403) and Wave 2, September–October 2020 (n = 1401), and two subpopulations, Jewish and Arab women. Findings reveal that CCA was significantly lower in Wave 2 than in Wave 1. Furthermore, poorer health, higher education, being an Arab, later gestational week, at-risk pregnancy, wave, higher psychological distress, greater economic concerns, and lower self-compassion contributed to higher childbirth anxiety. Wave moderated the association between optimism and anxiety. The findings of the empirical study, together with insights from the case studies, provide evidence of a decrease in CCA later in the crisis, and indicate the significance of resources for coping with the psychological implications of the pandemic. Moreover, they suggest the importance of empowering self-reliance techniques, such as self-compassion, which was significantly associated with lower anxiety, above and beyond the background and psychological variables. Clinical Impact Statement: Using both psychotherapeutic cases and empirical findings, this study points to the risk and resilience factors that contributed to pregnant women’s COVID-19-related childbirth anxiety (CCA) in the first two waves of the pandemic. The study suggests that CCA was higher in the first wave, as well as among women from a minority group. At the same time, the research shows that resilience resources of optimism and self-compassion contributed to the reduction of anxiety. These findings may guide interventions for the vulnerable group of pregnant women in times of crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • childbirth anxiety
  • distress
  • optimism
  • pregnancy
  • self-compassion


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