Anxious fathers make caesarean ops more painful for mothers

Fathers who are anxious during a caesarean operation may increase the pain experienced by the mother after the delivery of their baby, according to new research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

In a study involving 65 women scheduled for an elective caesarean, researchers found that the way their birth partners felt during the operation was related to the woman's own levels of fear and anxiety about the operation.

This increased the amount of pain the woman felt immediately after the operation, which could affect her immediate recovery as well as potentially influence other related factors such as breast feeding and parent-child bonding.

The lead researchers from the University of Bath (Dr Keogh) and Imperial College London (Dr Holdcroft) suggest that helping prepare the birth partner for a caesarean, both at antenatal classes and before the operation, could help reduce the pain experienced by the mother and improve the birth experience.

One in four babies born in the UK is now delivered by caesarean section (CS), with many hospitals delivering almost 30 per cent in this way. Fear of pain during childbirth is often cited as one of the contributory factors for the increasing rate of CS delivery.

But despite the popular notion that caesarean deliveries are the 'easy option', with respect to overall pain experiences compared with labour pain, this may not be the case.

"Caesarean sections involve major surgery and are often performed whilst the mother is awake under regional anaesthesia which numbs the lower part of the body," said Dr Ed Keogh from the University of Bath.

"Whilst actual pain during a caesarean is usually more controlled than a vaginal delivery, the whole procedure is not painless.

"Women who have had a caesarean tend to experience much longer periods of postnatal pain and recovery. They also have mobility restrictions placed on them whilst they recover from the surgery, su

Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
University of Bath

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