A new study suggests thatfear of birth has a negative impact on women's pregnancy and birth outcomes. High levels of fear were found in around a third of Australian women who were surveyed. The research identified three profiles: self determiners; take it as it comes; and fearful. Women who belonged to the fearful profile had the most negative outcomes including higher rates of elective caesarean and more negative feelings about pregnancy and parenting.
In my practice, the caesarean rate is 5%, and this is within an all-risk private midwifery practice. I am often asked by new clients why the caesarean rate within my practice is so low, compared with the National and State average of around 30%.
I believe the answer lies in the work that we do during pregnancy that really addresses fears, doubts and uncertainty. We spend a lot of time on birth preparation, birth planning, debriefing of previous births and re-education. When I ask women at discharge how they felt as they approached their birth, 90% indicate they felt extremely confident and 5% were confident. All women comment on how well prepared and informed they felt, and I believe this allows women to completely relax into labour and let their body birth their baby with the minimum of effort.