Frightened women are in labour for longer

Labour can last a lot longer for women with a fear of childbirth than those who are not afraid of the prospect. This is according to new research published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which also suggested there are many reasons why females have concerns about the process of bringing a new life into the world.

It was shown that while it typically took a mother without fear 6.46 hours to give birth, those scared by the prospect spent around eight hours in labour.

Norwegian researchers noted there are many explanations behind apprehension of this type, such as the woman being a young age, it being her first time with-child, pre-existing psychological issues, a history of abuse or lack of social support.

John Thorp, deputy editor in chief at BJOG, noted: "Women with fear of childbirth are more likely to need obstetric intervention and this needs to be explored further so that obstetricians and midwives can provide the appropriate support and advice."

Dr Jennifer Wild, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer Institute of Psychiatry, commented: "This is a fascinating study that further supports the link between our fearful thoughts and their effects on our bodies. 

"It may be possible to work with women to modify their anxious thoughts before childbirth to reduce the effects of anxiety during labour. Organisations such as Mumsnet and the National Childbirth Trust will be very interested in these findings and may also be able to offer more support."