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Objective: To examine the characteristics of women with antenatal or postnatal anxiety and to investigate aspects of their care that may be associated with it. Background: Positive outcomes following childbirth are associated with good physical and mental health during pregnancy and following childbirth. Although a degree of anxiety is normal in pregnancy, for some women it can become a serious problem. Methods: This study used data on 5332 women from a 2010 national maternity survey which asked about antenatal and postnatal health and well-being three months after childbirth. Women self-identified as experiencing anxiety and other problems during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Results: Antenatal anxiety was reported by 14% of women and postnatal anxiety by 5% of women. Antenatal anxiety was associated with younger age, Black and Minority Ethnic status, single parenthood, living in a disadvantaged area, having an unwanted pregnancy and long-term health problems. Of these factors, only long-term mental health problems were associated with anxiety in the postnatal period. In the logistic regression models long-term mental health problems dominated the findings. Significant differences in the perceptions of the care experienced were evident in the responses from women with anxiety both antenatally and postnatally. Conclusions: This study shows that antenatal and postnatal anxiety are influenced by health and social factors. Asking women about their current physical and psychological health and past history during pregnancy and following up on their well-being in the postnatal period is an essential element in planning and providing care to meet their needs. © 2013 Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology

Publication Date





465 - 478