Researchers found that average labour duration was eight hours for women with fear of childbirth, compared to six hours and 28 minutes for women without fear.
University of Oslo’s researchers asked 2,206 women who were 32 weeks pregnant to take a psychological test which worked out their fear of childbirth.
“Fear of childbirth seems to be an increasingly important issue in obstetric care,” said Samantha Salvesen Adams, study co-author.
“Our finding of longer duration of labour in women who fear childbirth is a new piece in the puzzle within this intersection between psychology and obstetrics,” added Adams, the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reports.
Some of the factors linked with this fear, which affects between five and 20 percent of pregnant women, include young maternal age, being a first-time mother, pre-existing psychological problems, lack of social support and a history of abuse or adverse obstetric events, according to a Akershus statement.
Fear of childbirth was assessed by the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire (W-DEQ). Women undertook the questionnaire at 32 weeks gestation and fear of childbirth was defined as a score of more than 85. Out of the total number, 165 (7.5 percent) women scored more than 85.
The average age of the participants at delivery was 30.9 years and 50.5 percent (1,113 women) were first time mothers. Average labour duration was 8.22 hours for first-time mothers.
The study also found that women with fear of childbirth more often delivered by instrumental vaginal delivery (17.0 percent versus 10.6 percent) or emergency caesarean delivery (10.9 percent versus 6.8 percent) as compared to women without fear of childbirth.