Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Fear of Childbirth Causing Increased C-Sections

WebMD Health News

Dec. 1, 1999 (Atlanta) -- Fear of childbirth is leading more women to request cesarean sections, according to a study in the November issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Doctors say that a woman's history of emergency C-section or vacuum extraction is the primary cause of such fear.

The study was conducted in a university hospital and included 300 women preparing for their second delivery, 100 of whom had undergone emergency procedures during their first deliveries. Participants who requested a C-section because of fear were compared with participants who reported no such fear, using the medical records from their first delivery.

The two groups were similar in prenatal education attendance, presence of a partner, start of pain management, use of additional pain control measures, incidence of incisions made in the vaginal area to help deliver the baby, age of the fetus at birth, and outcomes after delivery. The difference between the groups was largely a function of complications.

Women who were fearful of delivery had significantly more emergency C-sections and vacuum extractions during their first deliveries. Those that had a successful vaginal delivery (using the vacuum extraction) had significantly longer labor and incidence of complications such as placental retention (where a part or the entire placenta is left in uterus after labor) and vaginal or rectal tearing. Interviews revealed that 44% feared delivery as a whole, 19% feared tearing, 15% feared pain, and 12% feared fetal distress.

The chief investigator, Terhi Saisto, MD, PhD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, tells WebMD that "women who experience an operative delivery [C-section] may suffer from anxiety comparable to post-traumatic stress disorder. They should seek the counsel of their doctor or midwife several months later to avoid fear of delivery in the future. It's critical that caregivers emphasize that subsequent children can be delivered vaginally."

Saisto says that such counseling and education may help reduce the increasing number of women requesting cesarean sections due to fear. "C-sections should be performed only when it's safer than vaginal delivery for mother or baby. This is because the rates of morbidity and mortality are several times higher. Fear of delivery is probably preventable through education and improvement in the labor process."

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy