When it comes to giving birth, women often feel they must follow the instruction or advice of the obstetrician even if they feel an immense amount of fear about childbirth. This is especially true of women who fear vaginal delivery but have no idea why they feel fear. According to a report authored by researchers in Norway, women often feel they have no part in the decision of vaginal versus C-section delivery. They also feel demeaned when they talk about their desire to have a C-section.

The study, completed by Ellen Ramvi and Margrethe Tangerud, included just five women who’d requested a C-section and ended up giving birth vaginally. In Norway, women have the right to request a C-section, but that request is not always granted if there are no medical conditions that support the need for a C-section. While this is not exactly how medical rights are handled in the United States, the sharp rise in C-sections has doctors taking a second look at the medical chart before making the decision to go ahead with surgical delivery.

The women in the study all suffered from fear of vaginal delivery. They made that fear known to their caregivers. In all cases, the women felt they needed to give some reason to the caregiver before their fears were taken seriously. When women feel they need to legitimate fears and those fears are not taken into consideration, extreme anxiety can result.

In addition to feeling as though their fears were not heard, some of the women experienced fear so great they thought about giving up the pregnancy rather than give birth vaginally. This extreme fear leads to a disconnect between infant and mother in three cases. The mothers admitted having trouble bonding with their infant after having what they considered a forced vaginal delivery.

If there are no pregnancy complications, vaginal delivery is the safest birth method. C-sections increase the risk of maternal and fetal death and can lead to birth complication and extended hospital stays. However, if a woman has an extreme fear or phobia of vaginal delivery, a C-section may be the better option. Researchers in the study believe women have the right to be heard and not judged.

Source: Ellen Ramvi and Margrethe Tangerud. University of Stavanger. June 26, 2012.