Open Access

Individual and contextual factors of nulliparas’ levels of depression, anxiety and fear of childbirth in the last trimester of pregnancy: intimate partner attachment a key factor?



Depression, anxiety and fear of childbirth have numerous consequences for women and their developing offspring. Insecure attachment in close adult relationships is considered to be a risk factor for depressive symptoms. This study aims to gain further insight into the risk factors for depressive and anxiety symptoms in nulliparous women during the third trimester of pregnancy regarding the main contextual relations, with an emphasis on partner attachment.


A group of 325 nulliparas in the third trimester of pregnancy was enrolled in a childbirth preparation program. The following instruments were applied: Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised, the Edinburgh Depression Scale, the Zung Anxiety Scale, and a questionnaire regarding fear of childbirth. Three separate multiple linear regression models were built to explore the associations between demographic, social and attachment variables and mental health functioning.


Highly educated nulliparas and those with a higher level of co-workers’ emotional support experienced a lower level of anxiety when other predictors in the model were held constant. Of all the predictors in the model, only attachment anxiety and co-workers’ support were statistically significantly associated with the level of depression. Attachment anxiety was significantly associated with all three mental health indicators (level of depression, anxiety and fear of childbirth).


The results suggest that intimate attachment anxiety could be a key contextual factor for mood and anxiety mental health functioning during the third trimester of pregnancy, accessible to change. Our results could facilitate the formulation of interventions for reducing antenatal depressive symptoms.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Hygiene and Environmental Medicine