Dr. Stuart Fischbein chuckled when he read the title of the press release: “Women with a fear of childbirth endure a longer labor.”
The release was promoting a study published this week in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 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.
“I’m glad there’s now evidence to say that,” Fischbein said, “but it’s obvious.”
For those of us who aren’t OB/GYNs, it may seem more like a cruel joke. Women who are afraid of the pain and the possible medical complications associated with giving birth have to suffer through it longer?
The photographs in the series “Hundred Times the Difference,” by the photographer Moa Karlberg, capture, in closeup, the faces of women in the final stages of giving birth. Across the images, there is a range of expressions: grit and sensuality, trepidation and expectation, pain and elation. But in their intimate perspective the photographs emphasize the women’s shared experience—the inward focus and physical determination in their final, transformative moments of becoming mothers.
One Friday morning five years ago, I peed on a stick and a pink plus sign appeared. I didn’t know anything about babies, pregnancy or giving birth, but finding a respectable doctor and a good hospital seemed the most appropriate course of action. If someone had ever suggested having a home birth to me, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes or thought they were just a little too “out there” for my taste. This was, after all, my first birth and I wanted the safest option for myself and my baby. Clearly, that meant giving birth in a hospital with doctors and nurses and the opportunity to be numbed up to my neck if I needed that. Right? (click link to read)
I spent all of my 30 hours of early labor at home, and most of my six hours of active labor there as well. I continued to delay calling my doula, not knowing how much longer I would be laboring, and certain that I needed that “tool” in my tool belt to realize my goal of an unmedicated, birth center birth. My doula met us at the birth center, and two and a half hours later my daughter was born in the water and placed on my chest.
Now, I won’t break it down for you (though my husband might) what it cost us per hour to have doula support for my final 2.5 hours, but what I will tell you: