Moms-to-be who are afraid of giving birth are likely to be in labor for longer than women who are not, according to a new study.
Researchers in Norway conducted a study among 2,206 women who intended to give birth naturally, with 7.5 percent of the women phobic about giving birth. The study found that those who were clinically afraid spent an average of eight hours in labor, an entire 90 minutes more than their more relaxed counterparts, whose average labor clocked in at six hours 28 minutes.
The researchers said that certain conditions, such as physiological conditions or a young age, could influence a woman's fear of labor, but also stressed that the majority of women surveyed who were afraid of childbirth (89.1 percent) still managed to have a vaginal delivery as intended; though this percentage rose to 93.2 percent among those who were not afraid of giving birth.
"We found a link between fear of childbirth and longer duration of labor," said co-author of the research, Samantha Salvesen Adams of the University of Oslo, Norway. "However, it is important to note that a large proportion of women with a fear of childbirth successfully had a vaginal delivery and therefore elective caesarean delivery should not be routinely recommended," and noted the importance of accounting for women's psychological state during pre-natal care.
The researchers assessed fear of childbirth with a 33-item questionnaire filled out at 32 weeks of gestation. Common factors in women who feared labor included never having had a baby before, using drugs to speed labor, and having had a previous vaginal delivery using instruments.
These findings were published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology on June 27.
Several holistic practices and complementary therapies have been studied in pregnancy and childbirth, with techniques such as massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, and acupressure found to help reduce anxieties and pain.