Fear of childbirth according to peanuts: image via surebaby
Childbirth is a painful process for a mom, even with epidural pain killers that effectively reduce that pain. Fear of that pain, called tocophobia, is why some women choose not to have children at all. But for women who do become pregnant and carry their children to term, the fear of childbirth may actually cause greater difficulty to the mother in the delivery room, according to a new study from Norway.
Published online, in the BJOG: International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers at the Akershus University Hospital, Norway, administered the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire (W-DEQ), a validated psychometric instrument designed to measure fear of childbirth, to 2,206 expectant mothers during week 32 of their pregnancy. The mothers were all expecting a single child to be delivered vaginally.
Fear of childbirth was defined as a score of more than 85 on the W-DEQ, and 165 women, or 7.5 percent of the women, scored above 85. At childbirth, length of the labor period and gynecological interventions were recorded.
Researchers found that length of labor on average for childbirth fearing mothers was 8 hours versus 6 hours and 28 minutes for moms without fear of childbirth. Additionally, the use of instruments to aid in delivery was higher among mothers who feared delivery, 17 percent versus 10.6 percent, and emergency cesarean deliveries were also higher among the fearful, 10.9 percent versus 6.8 percent. To be noted, however, is that of the fearful mothers, 89.1 percent delivered their babies vaginally, as intended.
Fear of childbirth may result from a number of factors: youth, first babies, horror stories, previous pain from gynecological procedure or examination... But it certainly appears that, no matter what the cause, psychological testing and counseling is an important part of preparation for childbirth. Some of the fears a mother has may not even be expressed to others.
sources: Time Healthland, EurekAlert, SureBaby