Prenatal Fear of Pain, Helplessness, and Loss of Control in Labor



Fear of pain, helplessness, and loss of control in labor have been the subject of a number of research studies (Beebe, Lee, Carrieri-Kohlman, & Humphreys, 2007; Entwisle & Doering, 1981; Gagnon & Sandall, 2007; Hodnett & Osborne, 1989; Pacey, 2004; Raefael-Leff, 2001; Scott-Palmer & Skevington, 1981; Sherwen, 1983; Willmuth, Weaver, & Borenstein, 1978; Windwer, 1977). As regards fear of loss of control, some of these investigations, however, focused on locus of control – external or internal – or on political, social, and environmental control rather than maternal emotional and physical control. Research on locus of control is contradictory concerning its relevance to prenatal adaptation or outcomes. Entwisle and Doering (1981) used and then entirely dismissed the measure of locus of control because it was unrelated to other childbearing variables. Sherwen (1983) reported that body image attitudes following attendance at childbirth class were not influenced by locus of control, whereas Scott-Palmer and Skevington (1981) reported a relationship between locus of control and length of labor. In the research projects discussed in this book in Chapter 1 (and Chapter 11), the emphasis is on control as it pertains to a woman’s body and emotions and, to a lesser extent, on social control with regard to maintaining interpersonal status and respect. This focus reflects the content of the gravidas’ expressed apprehensions concerning control in labor and delivery.


Epidural Analgesia Family Doctor Physical Control Childbirth Experience Respiratory Intensive Care Unit 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TexasGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.United States Air Force School of Aerospace MedicineBrooks-City BaseUSA

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