Labor pain in women with and without severe fear of childbirth: A population-based, longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



BACKGROUND: This prospective study aims to investigate whether severe fear of childbirth increases pain perceptions during birth and whether co-occurring maternal health and birth factors as well as length and weight of the child explain the association.

METHODS: The study sample comprised women with a vaginal delivery and was drawn from the Akershus Birth Cohort. Data from the hospital birth's record and questionnaires at weeks 17-19 and 32 of pregnancy and 8 weeks postpartum were used (n = 1649). Analysis of variance and analysis of covariance were conducted to examine whether ratings of labor pain differed significantly between women with and without severe fear of childbirth and which factors explained the difference.

RESULTS: Women with severe fear of childbirth experienced significantly more labor pain than women without severe fear of childbirth (P < .01). However, when controlling for symptoms of maternal depression and anxiety, use of epidural/spinal anesthetic or nitrous oxide gas, and menstrual pain, this difference was no longer significant (P = .09).

DISCUSSION: Although the results show that labor pain is related to multiple physiological and psychological factors in a complex manner, symptoms of maternal depression and anxiety seem to play a central role for the experience of labor pain, and should therefore be focused on by health practitioners.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-477
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

External IDs

Scopus 85045107462
ORCID /0000-0002-7472-674X/work/142257713


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Adult, Anxiety/psychology, Depression/psychology, Fear/psychology, Female, Humans, Labor Pain/etiology, Logistic Models, Longitudinal Studies, Maternal Health, Mental Health, Norway/epidemiology, Parturition/psychology, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Risk Factors, Surveys and Questionnaires