Relax! Why Nervous Mums Take Longer To Give Birth

27/06/2012 12:15 | Updated 22 May 2015
Relax! Why nervous mums take longer to give birthGetty
About to give birth? Relax, nothing to worry about. That's my advice – and I'm a man!

But it turns out that we fellas who (jokingly of course!!) say "Calm down, dear, it's the most natural thing in the world," may have a point.

For new research reveals that women who are anxious about giving birth have far longer labours than those who are chillaxed about the experience.

In fact, nervous mums-to-be take an extra hour and a half to deliver their baby.

I can speak from experience about this – not directly, of course – but my wife is one of the most matter-of-fact-what's-all-the-fuss-about-let's-just-get-on-with-it people I have ever met.

She had our two sons without any pain relief – drugs, gas/air etc – whatsoever. And both arrived within 90 minutes of her contractions starting.

The new research, from the University of Oslo, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, says nervous women typically take eight hours to give birth, while those who aren't scared take six and a half hours.

It is thought up to a fifth of women are scared of giving birth, known as tocophobia.

The researchers said scared women release adrenaline, stopping the muscles in their womb from properly contracting and pushing out the baby.

The study also found that those who were frightened were more likely to need an epidural or a caesarean.

And they were less likely to communicate with midwives about problems, so any assistance they may have needed was delayed.

The researchers asked 2,206 women who were 32 weeks pregnant to take a psychological test which worked out their fear of childbirth.

Around 7.5 per cent of the women – all first-time mothers – were defined as scared of childbirth.

Lead researcher Samantha Salvesen Adams, said: "Generally, longer labour duration increases the risk of emergency caesarean section.

"However, it is important to note that a large proportion of women with a fear of childbirth successfully had a vaginal delivery and so elective caesarean delivery should not be routinely recommended."

Mothers, what do you think? Annoying to be told your child's long birth was because you were scared? Or does this research ring true to you?

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