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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Women 'afraid of giving birth'
Woman giving birth
Just 7% of births are "completely" natural
Eight out of 10 pregnant women are frightened of the prospect of giving birth, according to a survey.

Most woman also admit to feeling afraid throughout the birth of their child.

Experts have suggested that much of this fear is due to the fact that very few women are now having a completely natural delivery.

Just 7% of women have natural labour. More than a third have an epidural, a quarter have induced births and almost half need stitches after the delivery.

The poll of 2,000 mothers carried out for the website found that 87% of pregnant women were scared at the prospect of going into labour.

If a woman knows what a piece of equipment is for and how it works, she is less likely to freak out when it is wheeled towards her

Sarah Stone,

Nine out of 10 said they intended to have their baby in hospital because they feel it is a safer environment.

The website has launched a virtual reality delivery suite to help women to allay their fears.

It allows women to take a virtual tour of a suite, birthing pool room, special care baby unit and an operating theatre.

The tour was filmed at Eastbourne District Hospital and at the Crowborough Birthing Centre in Sussex.

Sarah Stone, editor of the website, said women needed to be informed about what will happen when they give birth.

"It is no longer realistic to pretend the majority of women are going to cope with the birth situation with a special breathing technique and a beanbag.

"They should be able to fully understand the procedures of hospital birth before stepping foot in the building.

"If a woman knows what a piece of equipment is for and how it works, she is less likely to freak out when it is wheeled towards her," she said.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said a study carried out by the charity had come up with similar findings.

"Our study found that women were afraid of many different aspects of the birth. If all these things were put together then they would add up to women being very worried."

She said the NCT receives many calls from women worried about giving birth.

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See also:

10 Sep 00 | Health
'Expectant fathers ignored'
08 Sep 00 | Health
Pregnancy stress 'causes defects'
18 May 00 | Medical notes
Minor complications of pregnancy
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