Background: The aims of the present study were to compare primiparous and multiparous women's experiences of fear of delivery during an early stage of active labor (cervix dilatation 3-5 centimeters) and to study whether fear of delivery, measured during the early stage of active labor, was a predictor of the amount of pain relief received during the remaining part of labor (cervix dilatation 5 cm - partus), of the duration of the remaining part of labor, and of the occurrence of instrumental vaginal delivery and emergency cesarean section.
Method: Thirty-five primiparous and 39 multiparous women answered the Delivery Fear Scale (DFS) once during the early stage of labor and before they had received any pain relief.
Results: Primiparous women reported higher levels of fear than multiparous women did. Fear during the first phase of labor predicted only the total amount of pain relief received during labor.
Conclusion: The clinical implications of the study are that the delivery staff should consider women's fear during labor and pay attention especially to primiparous women's increased risk of higher levels of fear during an early stage of active labor, as compared with multiparous women's. The challenge for staff of a delivery ward is to support the woman in labor in a way that decreases fear, which in turn might reduce the woman's need of pain relief.