STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine the level of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth in nulliparous pregnant women. DESIGN: Survey using stratified randomised cluster sampling and confidential questionnaire analysis. SETTING: Maternity health care clinics. PARTICIPANTS: Of a total eligible population of 1713 nulliparous pregnant women from a Finnish province, 1443 took part. Of the remainder, 131 were not informed of the study and 139 (8.8%) refused to participate. The distribution of occupation of the refusers was similar to the participants. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Participants were questioned about their sociodemographic characteristics and about their knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth and psychomotor development in the infant, using 28 question sets (118 items). Results showed that, although social differences in the Finnish population are relatively small, there were still distinct differences in knowledge about childbearing in the different strata. The largest knowledge gaps were about health behaviour, particularly about alcohol intake and nutritional aspects of pregnancy and lactation, while knowledge of normal and abnormal delivery was relatively complete. When responses were divided into two groups with the median correct response rate as the cut off point, those with scores at or below the median were significantly more likely to have had modest education, to work in lower level employment, or to be very young or unemployed. CONCLUSIONS: Differences still occur in knowledge levels among nulliparous pregnant women and particular guidance and care is needed for less advantaged mothers to ensure that they deliver healthy full term babies.
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