Do You Fear Childbirth? This Could Prolong Labor, Research Discovers

Childbirth is basically the least reasonable thing women have to go through in their lives, but those who fear childbirth could face a longer labor, researchers have found.

Fear and childbirth were the subject of a new study out of Norway, where researchers sought to determine if– as has been suggested by midwives for many decades — being afraid prolonged labors.

The Norwegian researchers collected data between 2008 and 2010 — polling 2206 pregnant women about their childbirth-related fears during the 32nd week of pregnancy. (Because, we imagine, any woman in stirrups for any reason is probably at least a little bit scared, so it’s probably not the best time to take a survey, in any event.)

Of the more than 2200 women surveyed on fear of childbirth, 7.5% were found to have what researchers determined to be a fear of childbirth, scoring higher than 85 points on a scale of 165. But what was interesting was the outcomes of labor for women who were found to be in the “fear of childbirth” category.

c-section vbac success rate

Many went on to forgo a c-section, and achieved a successful vaginal delivery. However, instruments including forceps were used in the fear of childbirth group at a rate of 17% versus 10.6% for everyone else. More than 10% required an emergency c-section, versus 6.8% of the other group.

Overall, however, c-section rates were not hugely different — 93.2% in the group of women with no fear of childbirth had a vaginal delivery, versus 89.1% of those in the other group. The study was published in the June 27th issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.