Afraid of Childbirth? You Might Have a Longer Labor

Photo: Veer / The Bump
Photo: Veer / The Bump

The thought of delivery is kind of nerve-wracking, right? Especially if it’s your first pregnancy. But you might want to work through your fears if you want the process to happen faster. A new study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who have a fear of childbirth might spend more time in labor.

The Norwegian study analyzed data on 2,206 women who were set to give birth vaginally and weren’t expecting multiples. At 32 weeks of pregnancy, the women took the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire to measure their fear of childbirth. Women were classified with a fear if they scored over an 85. Of the women assessed, 165 scored high enough to be considered fearful. The average labor for those women was eight hours, while the women who didn’t have a fear took an average of 6.46 hours.

It was also found that women who had a fear of childbirth were more likely to have an emergency c-section and instrumental vaginal delivery, compared to women who didn’t have a fear. Of the total number of pregnant women, 25.5% who had a fear and 44.4% who didn’t have a fear had a successful vaginal delivery. But there’s good news for the fearful women: 89% of those who intended to give birth vaginally did actually go through with it.

Researchers believe that stress and communication with hospital staff might be a factor in delivery times. Researchers believe that these findings will help obstetricians and midwives offer the extra support to patients who are particularly scared of giving birth.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Top 10 Labor and Delivery Fears (and Why You Shouldn’t Worry)

Delivery Room Tools That May Freak You Out (But Shouldn’t!)

Tricks to Make Labor Easier