Some Norwegian women with birth anxiety face additional trauma in their meeting with the country's health service, according to research carried out in Stavanger.
The Cesarean section rate is rising in most developed countries and many pregnant women around the world suffer from a fear of childbirth. In Norway, birth anxiety affects one in five pregnant women and can prompt some to demand a Caesarean delivery. But the question is how afraid a woman must be before her wishes are heard.
Unlike many other countries, Norway does not give women an automatic right to a Caesarean although their wishes are meant to be taken into account in the assessment.
"A number find their anxieties are not taken seriously," says postdoctoral researcher Ellen Ramvi at the University of Stavanger (UiS). "This has a big effect on the way they experience the birth and its aftermath."
The case histories of five women who gave birth vaginally after requesting a Caesarean were studied by Ramvi and midwife Margrethe Tangerud at Stavanger University Hospital.
They wanted to identify how these expectant mothers experienced their reception by health personnel when they asked for the operation.
Their research shows that the process of reaching a decision on how the baby is to be delivered is difficult both for the women themselves and for the midwives and doctors.
Legitimate the fear
The women covered by the study reported they had difficulties feeling secure about giving birth and about their relationship with the medical personnel.
"We interpreted our interviews to suggest that some women 'deserved' to get help and understanding for their birth anxiety," explains Tangerud.
"That applied to those expectant mothers whose fears could be explained and understood by the health personnel. When the latter could find no obvious reason for the birth anxiety, the women experienced little understanding of their
|Contact: Ellen Ramvi|
University of Stavanger