New research suggests that some fathers should steer clear of the delivery room because they could make the pain of childbirth worse.
The presence of men at the birth of their children has grown in popularity since home births began to decline in the 1970s while previous studies found that pregnant women needed fewer painkillers if their partner was present.
However, a new study by University College London, King’s College London and the University of Hertfordshire suggests that women who lack emotional intimacy with their partner experienced more pain if they are on hand.
The study found the pain felt by 39 women given “pinprick’’ laser pulses on their fingers was not reduced by the presence of their partner and in many cases the presence of a partner made the pain feel worse, and increased more for the women who most avoided closeness in their relationships.
Dr Charlotte Krahé, of the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience said: “We were interested in the role of individuals’ patterns of seeking or avoiding closeness in their relationships. We wanted to test whether this personality construct, termed attachment style, might determine whether partner support decreases or heightens the experience of pain.”
In the experiments women were given a moderately painful laser pulse on one of their fingers and asked to rate the intensity of the pain.
Researchers also measured how the electrical activity in their brains “spiked” in response to the laser pulses, to examine the relation between pain reports and brain activity.
Each woman also completed a questionnaire to measure the extent to which she either sought or avoided ‘”closeness’’ – emotional intimacy – in relationships.
The study found that the more avoidant participants were of closeness in their relationships, the more pain they experienced when their romantic partner was present both in how they rated pain and their brain scans.
However, the presence of a partner had no significant effect, good or bad, on pain felt by women who sought closeness in relationships.
– The Daily Telegraph