Clinical observations of the behavior of labor patients and their families along with the recognition of the unique aspects of the mother-daughter relationship directed attention to mother-daughter communication as an influence on the level of anxiety that a woman may experience at the onset of her first labor. Studies on the physiology of labor have provided substantial evidence that as epinephrine levels increase, as a result of anxiety, uterine contractions are less effective and labor is prolonged. Two hundred ninety-six primiparous daughters, 114 white and 182 black were contacted during their postpartum hospitalization. The length of latent phase of labor for each of them was determined by direct questioning and findings of physical examinations on hospital records. The mothers of these daughters were interviewed to elicit recall of childbirth experience and expressions of attitudes toward childbirth. Bivariate analysis of data showed that daughters whose mothers expressed strong attitudes toward childbirth had a significantly shorter labor than daughters whose mothers expressed moderate attitudes. Multivariate analysis revealed different predictors according to race.
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Leah Bonovich, R.N., Sc.D.
Leah Bonovich, R.N., Sc.D. is at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, 600 North Wolfe St., Houck Building, Rm. 375C, Baltimore, MD 21205. The graphs used in this article were prepared by M. Kay Cresci, R.N., M.S.