childbirth self efficacy

Today we’re talking about childbirth self efficacy. I’m taking a deeper look into the psychology of birth with birth expert and best-selling author, Sophie Fletcher. In this episode we’re going to be talking about what childbirth self efficacy is, why it’s important in the context of childbirth and what we can do to influence it. Believe it or not, this is all very enlightening!


The idea for this episode came up when Sophie and I were chatting at the Independent Midwives conference here in the UK. Sophie mentioned childbirth self efficacy to me and I had to admit that I had no idea what she was on about. Once she explained to me what it was, I knew I wanted to chat to her on the podcast about it, because I believe that if a pregnant woman cold get her head around childbirth self efficacy, it provides her with a framework to improve her birth experience – and who doesn’t need a bit of that?

What is Self Efficacy?

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined selfefficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One’s sense of selfefficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges. 

It’s easy to see how childbirth self efficacy is now a relevant concept to discuss on the podcast.

Self-efficacy has two different components; outcome expectancy, i.e. the belief in a certain behaviour being helpful in a specific situation, and efficacy expectancy, being the belief in one ?s ability to perform such behaviour. But, the outcome expectancy and efficacy expectancy might not always be congruent; a woman might know that a behaviour has a certain outcome but she might be unsure about her own capacity to carry it out.
This bit is key. We already know that childbirth confidence is an important indicator of women’s coping abilities during labour and birth. so naturally it follows that if a woman doesn’t believe that she can change an outcome, then she is less likely to take the action required, even though she knows it can have an effect.
During our chat Sophie shares some surprising results from the vast pool of evidence that exists around childbirth self efficacy. The one that stood out for me was that women who choose to pursue the winging it or laissez faire birth plan will have the same outcomes as women who are really fearful. The same?? In other words a probable crap birth experience.

Childbirth Self Efficacy Influencing Factors

Sophie also shares the some key influencing factors that can affect your childbirth self efficacy, which is great to know because then you can do something about it. These include;
  1. Vicarious experiences – where you witness what happens around you. This is where culture and media have a lot to answer for.
  2. Verbal persuasion – which is the impact that friends, family and health care professionals can have
  3. Physical sensations – how we interpret our physical sensations you have
One rather depressing conclusion we came to though was that those women who most need to listen to this podcast about childbirth self efficacy and understand the concept, are the least likely to be listening. Why? Because they simply won’t be seeking out information about improving their birth experience because they won’t believe in their own ability to use that information to bring about change in their life.

About Sophie Fletcher

Sophie Fletcher has been a clinical hypnotherapist for over 10 years and is a leading expert on hypnosis and mindfulness for childbirth. Her bestselling book Mindful Hypnobirthing, was published in 2014 and the audio book is being published in March 2017. She is also the co-founder of Mindful Mamma which runs classes across the U.K. and Australia. The audiobook of Mindful Hypnobirthing is being published by Random House in March 2017. Additional antenatal and postnatal hypnosis downloads are available from
Alexia Leachman
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