While some fear in expectant mothers is normal, excessive childbirth fear can lead to complications during pregnancy and birth, and increase risk of post-partum depression, say researchers.
The study showed that women are even more afraid of childbirth than previously thought–and are as concerned about their health care providers and their place of birth as they are about pain or complications.
Excessive fear can lead to complications during pregnancy and birth, said Lee Roosevelt, Clinical Assistant Professor at University of Michigan School of Nursing in the US.
For the study, the researchers polled three small, diverse focus groups of women who were pregnant or had recently given birth.
“Women who have significant fear of childbirth are more likely to have C-sections, longer labors, and to need induction or augmentation,” Roosevelt said.
“They’re more likely to have postpartum depression,” she noted.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
Women are not only more afraid than previously thought, but their fears extend far beyond common worries about pain or birth complications, she said.
One of the greatest fears is being abandoned by the clinician, Roosevelt said.
They worry their clinicians would not treat them respectfully or listen to their concerns, or would not attend the actual birth, the study found.
Pregnancy, labor, and birth are perhaps the most significant life experiences that a woman and her partner will encounter. It is a time of extreme physical and emotional transition with intense hormonal, psychological, and biological changes, all of which can have an effect on the central nervous system.
Childbirth education classes provide an opportunity to teach a new mother to anticipate the help and support she might need for the birth of her child.
Childbirth educators can play a significant role in helping to break this silence, first by providing the necessary education to help women and their partners recognize the early signs and symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD). Second, educators can help increase a woman’s understanding of how to meet her own needs. This approach can improve a woman’s overall state of mental wellness, thereby possibly preventing or lessening the experience of PPD.
Postpartum Depression can feature appetite and sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, lack of interest in the baby, irritation or anger or rage, withdrawal from interacting with others, sadness and crying, the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, and/or possible thoughts of harming oneself or running away and escaping.