It makes sense really – if you’re scared of something, it’s going to take you longer to do. When it comes to the length of your labour, apparently this is exactly what can happen if fear gets in the way.
Women who are frightened of giving birth have longer labours and are more likely to need intervention, according to research published last week in the British journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).
Between five and 20 per cent of women are said to have a fear of giving birth (a serious fear is known as Tokophobia). To be honest, I’m surprised this figure isn’t higher – how are we supposed to look forward to giving birth when all we see on television and in films is screaming, shouting, terror and pain? Not helpful!
The Norwegian study looked at 2206 pregnant women who intended to have a vaginal delivery. Researchers found that women with a fear of childbirth spent one hour and 32 minutes longer in labour than women with no such fear. They measured this fear using something called a ‘Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire (W-DEQ)’, which is a validated psychometric instrument.
Calm and peaceful labours
Channel 4’s ‘One born every minute’ has shown us that calm labours do exist and there is a light-hearted side of labour that should be embraced. What else can you do when you’re at your most undignified but laugh?
The nation fell in love with married fashion and styling duo Heather and Danny, who let us be a part of their incredible birthing experience. Wearing her bespoke birthing swimsuit – which she refers to as a ‘glabour’ outfit – we watched with envy as she breathed calmly and gave birth to her daughter with barely a sigh or a moan.
Hypnobirthing and relaxation
The first thing I did when I found out we were having a baby was to buy the book ‘Childbirth without Fear’. For many women, ignorance is bliss. In my case, I decided to take my newly-acquired happy hormones (endorphins) and re-educate myself after years of hearing only negative stories about labour and birth.
I read everything I could find on the subject and attended all of my NHS and NCT classes, along with one for luck, a ‘Breathe to a better birth’ workshop. This involved listening to the calming tones of a lady tell a room full of hopeful pregnant women and their other halves that there is no need for pain or fear in labour. Endorphins are all we need for pain relief. We don’t push, we release. It isn’t a contraction; it’s a surge. You get the idea.
It was definitely useful and gave me a new perspective on labour – especially when the teacher showed us an amazing video of a women giving birth who appeared to be in no pain whatsoever. So if you want to knock off one hour and 32 minutes from your labour, all you need to do it be less scared. Easier said than done.
Football and established labour – the perfect mix?
I tried using various hypnotherapy CDs in the lead-up to my due date and on the day itself, but being taken down to the hospital canteen to watch a football match and ‘see how things go’ as I went from 2 to 10cm in one and a half hours, sort of scuppered that idea.
Months of wondering what those last few hours would be like and there it was – footie, lasagne and a slow walk back up to the delivery suite. To be honest, it was so normal and ‘unscary’ that it was actually pretty magical.