Fear of Childbirth May Lengthen Labor

by Chris Curley on June 29, 2012

Here’s a perverse little tidbit: Your fear of giving birth may actually lead to a more painful, protracted labor, a new Norwegian study suggests.

Women who were scared of giving birth spent an average of 47 extra minutes in labor compared to women who reported little fear about the prospect of vaginal birth, researcher Samantha Salvesen Adams of Akershus University Hospital and her colleagues report.

At 32 weeks, around 7.5 percent of women were scared of childbirth, the researchers say.

Fear of childbirth also increases the odds of women needing an emergency caesarean delivery (10.9 percent compared to 6.8 percent) and needing devices like forceps to deliver vaginally (17 percent compared to 1.6 percent), CNN reported June 27.

Talking to a doctor or midwife before and during labor could help reduce your fears of giving birth and counter some culturally instilled fears of childbirth, says Stuart Fischbein, M.D., co-author of the book “Fearless Pregnancy.”

“We have a society where [you're] pounded with information [about] things that can go wrong with childbirth,” Fischbein says. “Of course you develop fears.”

The study appears online in BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

(Photo © Sharona Gott via Flickr)