London - Women who are nervous about giving birth have far longer labours – taking an extra hour and a half to deliver their baby, say researchers.

Nervous women typically take eight hours to give birth, while those who aren’t scared take six and a half hours.

It is thought up to a fifth of women are scared of giving birth, known as tocophobia.

The researchers said scared women release adrenaline, stopping the muscles in their womb from properly contracting and pushing out the baby.

The study also found that those who were frightened were more likely to need an epidural or a caesarean.

And they were less likely to communicate with midwives about problems, so any assistance they may have needed was delayed.

Researchers from the University of Oslo asked 2,206 women who were 32 weeks pregnant to take a psychological test which worked out their fear of childbirth. Around 7.5 percent of the women – all first-time mothers – were defined as scared of childbirth.

Lead researcher Samantha Salvesen Adams, of the Health Services Research Centre, Akershus University Hospital, Norway, said: “Generally, longer labour duration increases the risk of emergency caesarean section.

“However, it is important to note that a large proportion of women with a fear of childbirth successfully had a vaginal delivery and so elective caesarean delivery should not be routinely recommended.”

The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that nervous women spent one hour and 32 minutes longer in labour.

John Thorp, of BJOG, said: “This research shows that women with fear of childbirth are more likely to need intervention and this needs to be explored further so that obstetricians and midwives can provide support and advice.” - Daily Mail