Clinical Psychology 1 (2008), 1-2, 91-108

Professional Paper

Psychological Factors of Pain Experience in Childbirth

Ana Havelka Meštrović - Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Hospital Dubrava, Zagreb
Morana Bilić - University of Applied Health Studies, Zagreb
Ana Frlan Bajer - Electus Human Resources d.o.o., Zagreb
Irma  Barišić - Center for child and adolescent mental health, Clinic for Children's Diseases, Zagreb
Martina Kramarić - Zagrebačka County Police Administration, Zagreb

Fulltext (croatian, pages 91-108).pdf

Objectives: Labor pains are combined with strong emotions. Their type and intensity are closely related to previous experience, upbringing and traditional social environment in which a woman has grown. Consequently, the experience of labor pain is modified by psychological and social factors arising from these influences. According to the Melzack-Wall theory of pain, the “gate control” theory, psychological states and general mood are directly related to the experienced intensity and quality of pain. Hence it is logical to expect that certain socio-psychological factors will be related to the intensity and quality of pain experienced during childbirth (Melzack, Taenzer, Feldman i Kinch 1981). The purpose was to investigate the influence of these factors on the intensity and quality of labor pain. Method: The data was collected on a sample of N = 176 parturient who gave birth to their children without c-section and epidural analgesia. The intensity and quality of pain were measured by a short version of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ – Short Form). The psychological factors included the following: social support by a partner/husband in terms of his presence during the process of childbirth, self-assessment of one’s knowledge about physiological and anatomical aspects of childbirth, and motivation to gain additional knowledge about childbirth through courses for pregnant mothers. Results: The parturient women describe their labor pains as very intense; the marks on the pain quality scale are usually in terms of painful, sharp, colicky and exhausting. The presence of partner during childbirth has been shown as a rare form of social support, whereas self-assessment of knowledge about anatomical and physiological aspects of childbirth has shown to be related to the intensity of labor pain on affective subscale. Conclusion: The selected socio-psychological factors have shown to be related to the intensity of experienced labor pain, which is in accordance with the Melzack-Wall theory of pain, and has useful implications for obstetric practice.

psychological factors of pain experience, labor pain, childbirth

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