Researchers at Akershus University Hospital in Norway found women who feared giving birth were in labor for 1 hour and 32 minutes longer, on average, than those who had no fear. Adjusting for first time mothers, who normally have slightly longer labors, and epidural use, which can slow labor, the time difference was still 47 minutes.
Surprised? Probably not.
Women approaching labor usually fall in to one of two categories, those with fear of the process and those who calmly face labor without fear. This study bears out what Doctors have long observed - those with fear are in labor longer. Psychologists call this "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy"; which simply means a prediction that causes itself to come true due to the simple fact that the prediction was made. This happens because our beliefs influence our actions.
A simple example is: A teacher believes that one child is smarter than another. The teacher will tend to give more attention to the "smarter" child, giving that student more challenging work and questions, causing the child to excel and get better grades than the other students.
In labor, the body produces a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract, these contractions push the baby down through the birth canal for delivery. Fear produces adrenaline; researchers believe that the adrenaline actually interferes with the work of the oxytocin and makes the contractions less productive.
What should you take away from this study? If you are afraid of labor, tell your Physician at The Woman's Clinic. Sometimes talking about what scares you makes the fear less overwhelming.
Also, it is important to realize that we live in a society that loves sensation. You are surrounded by women telling labor and delivery horror stories. This adds to fear, especially in first time mothers. So, if you are one of those women who have had uneventful, fairly "easy" labor and deliveries - tell your story to the younger women around you. It could help put positive images in their minds and ease the fear.
Fri, June 29, 2012
by Alicia Prince