Explaining the pain of active labor: The importance of maternal confidence


  • Dr. Nancy K. Lowe

    Corresponding author
    1. An assistant professor in the Department of Life Span Process, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus.
    • College of Nursing, Ohio State University, 1585 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1289
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This study was designed to investigate the relationships between the perception of pain during active labor and nine predictor variables: age, parity, childbirth preparation, state anxiety, confidence in ability to handle labor, concern regarding the outcome of labor, fear of pain, cervical dilatation and frequency of uterine contractions. The sample included 134 low-risk women at term with a normal singleton pregnancy. Standard and stepwise regression was used to examine the ability of the selected variables to explain the variance in the sensory, affective, and evaluative components of pain as measured by the subscales of the Pain Rating Index of the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Although significant proportions of variance were explained for each component of pain, the study variables were most powerful in their ability to explain the variance in the affective component of active labor pain. The stepwise analysis suggested that of the nine variables, confidence in ability to handle labor was the most significant predictor of all components of pain during active labor.