The Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome and Labour Pain

Fear in the body creates tension, which then creates pain in your birthing muscles. This is called the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome coined by early 19th century English obstetrician Dr. Grantly Dick-Read.

He observed that when a woman was relaxed and trusted in her body and her environment, her body would often birth with ease and without any pain.

If during labour your are fearful, panic can set in and your labour can slow down, stop or became incredibly painful. As well, if you feel fearful this causes a fight or flight response which can have a negative effect on your labour and the birth of your baby.

In contrast, if you feel relaxed, calm and safe this allows your body to birth with ease and comfort.

How to minimise fear and stay calm

  • Ensure you are familiar with where you'll be giving birth, take a tour of the birth suite or hospital.
  • Try and meet the medical staff who will be looking after you during your labour if possible.
  • Take in as many of your own items to your labour as possible including your own pillows, LED candles, music, blankets and make the space yours.
  • Create a calm ambience in the room with music, lighting and aromatherapy.


Remember that the same hormones you use for labour are the same hormones you release when making love so try and create a similar environment for birthing your baby.

Remember that women in labour don't like being watched, so ensure you have privacy.

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