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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Staff Writer
November 22, 2012

Group Therapy May Lessen Fears of Natural Birth

Natural deliveries aren't as scary as many first-time moms think. By Charlene J. Owen

Giving birth is something that many first-time moms fear. The thought of excruciating pain, or the fact that there’s no real way of knowing what is going to happen during delivery, may be some of the reasons why women opt for an expensive cesarean section than a natural delivery.  
  
The reality is that the fear may be unfounded. A study from Finland featured on NBCNews.com has discovered that it only takes a few group therapy sessions for mothers to get their facts straight about their delivery options.

Finnish researchers have been concerned about the rising occurrences of C-sections around the world, especially in western countries such as the US. Although most moms think this procedure to be quicker and less painful, it may actually be risker as it may increase bleeding, and cause infection as well as infertility. This is why Dr. Hanna Rouhe, clinical researcher at the Helsinki University Centralö Hospital, and her team studied the fear that made women choose C-sections.

The researchers asked 4,575 expectant mothers to fill out a psychological survey to find out whether or not they feared childbirth. A total of 371 were found to have symptoms of extreme fear, which included panic episodes, nightmares about delivery, and a very strong desire to go under the knife. This group was then divided into two sub-groups--90 of them received two-hour sessions of group therapy with a trained psychologist, while the rest received only basic prenatal care.

During the time of delivery, 66 percent of the women who attended the therapy sessions chose natural deliveries, while 44 percent of those who received only prenatal care chose the same. According to Rouhe, this proves that alleviating fear through therapy may lessen the number of pregnant women who choose to undergo C-sections.

Although there are scientists who argue that the study shows nothing new, it stresses the fact that education and awareness are important for would-be mothers in order to remove preconceived notions about childbirth that may in fact be wrong. Aside from prenatal care, it’s important for pregnant women to undergo consultation with ob-gynecologists and midwives, and to seek support from other women who have undergone the same procedure.

If you’re a first-time mom and would like to get firsthand information about giving birth from other mothers, visit GIRLTalk!

(Screencap from What to Expect When Expecting courtesy of Lionsgate Films)

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