Scared of giving birth? You’re not alone! Up to a fifth of women are frightened of labour - and to make matters worse, researchers have found that women who are nervous about giving birth actually have longer labours than relaxed mums-to-be.
While women who aren’t nervous take an average of six and a half hours to give birth, the babies of scared first-time mums can take around eight hours to arrive.
Researchers from the University of Oslo asked 2,206 first-time mums to carry out a psychological test 36 weeks into their pregnancies. They found that 7.5% of the women were scared of childbirth, and when it came to giving birth, these nervous mums were in labour for one hour and 32 minutes longer on average than their calmer counterparts.
According to the study, this longer labour was the result of a release of adrenaline, which actually stops the muscles in the womb from contracting properly and effectively pushing out the baby. As a result, frightened mums are also more likely to need an epidural or a c-section, and less likely to communicate with midwives about problems, too.
John Throp, from BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: ‘This research shows that women with fear of childbirth are more likely to need intervention and this needs to be explored further so that obstetricians and midwives can provide support and advice.’
If you’re concerned, why not check out our guide to calming your birth fears or read our Birth FAQs to put your mind at rest.