Please help a crazy woman

(12 Posts)
WantsToBeAMan Mon 03-Oct-11 04:58:34

Hi everyone!

I posted here because this seems to be a helpful section of mumsnet. Maybe I should have posted in the mental health section? I apologise if I have the wrong section.
Here is my problem.

I have a bit of OCD which has led to a condition called tocophobia. It is a fear of pregnancy and particularly childbirth.
I like children( I don't have baby rabies, but I like them ) and I do want one or maybe two. However the idea of being pregnant or giving birth makes me vomit and hyperventilate ( I am not exaggerating ).
I am ashamed to admit that this condition has caused me to have an abortion in the past.
I've tried everything- I read Ina May's Guide to childbirth, I had cognitive behavioural therapy, I even tried to be a friend's birth partner because someone suggested that watching the miracle of birth will change my mind.
Nothing worked.

Let me give you an idea of why I developed this phobia.

I have a a problem in my thyroid glands which caused me to put on a LOT of weight a few years back. I worked my ass off to lose the weight, but I have been warned that pregnancy might cause an imbalance again and the weight can return. I am very scared of that because I have serious body confidence issues.

I cannot poo during my period because the pain is so intense that pushing down will kill me.I have some serious medical conditions ( I don't want to get into it )The will make pregnancy and childbirth more complicated for me than other women. These are the doctors words, not my own assumptions.

I am scared to death of birthing- how long it can take ( upto 96 hours of labour apparently ), how much it hurts, how embarrassing it is ( poo and all ), how unpredictable it can get ( episiotomy, suction, forceps )- all this makes me want to die.

I was told by my psychiatrist that a cesarian may be the answer. It is certainly less unpredictable, so thats a plus, but I hate the idea of surgery too.
Given a choice between the two, I would pick the cesarian, but even that doesn't really make me thrilled.sad

Besides I keep getting nightmares- they strapped me to the table and used forceps without my permission, they booked me for a cesarian and made me do it naturally ( like the poster who started a thread about her unexpected VBAC-that thread is my worst nightmare ), they left me in pain and let me labour for 5 days.
My worst phobia is that elective cesarians will be banned by the time I am ready to have a baby.

The doctors have gently told me that the phobia is not going away, so I have to find a way to get around it if I want a baby.

So I decided to agree to the cesarian.
But how do I convince my OB when the time comes? I can pay for it myself if insurance doesn't cover the cesarian, but what if the doctor refuses to do it? Or what if the doctor tricks me into believing that it will be a cesarian and then doesn't give me one?
What if they ban elective cesarians by the time I decide to have a baby?

I am so scared. Please say anything positive.

Hopefully someone more helpful will come along soon but I would imagine that if you've been diagnosed with tocophobia and you have other medical conditions it's unlikely they'd refuse a CS.

Try not to get too scared by what you read on the boards here. Yes, some poor women have dreadful, frightening, traumatic experiences but lots and lots have very positive experiences too.

Sorry, not very helpful probably but just wanted to reassure you that the scenarios that you are imagining are rarer than you'd think from being on here.

CailinDana Mon 03-Oct-11 12:21:26

I think you definitely need to work through all this a bit more before you contemplate getting pregnant. Yes, your phobia is probably never going to go away fully, but from reading your post it appears to be very active and serious at the moment which could make a pregnancy an absolute nightmare for you. All your fears are valid to a certain extent but the fact that you're already having nightmares and already envisioning every terrible scenario seems to suggest to me that if you were pregnant your anxiety would spiral out of control.

You need to have serious talk with your psychiatrist about this. Ask if there is any medication that you could take (pregnancy compatible of course) that would reduce your OCD tendencies or your anxiety. Ask if there are any exercises you could do to control your stress and your repetitive thoughts. Arm yourself with as much mental preparation as you can before setting out on getting pregnant.

Pregnancy is quite scary, even for someone who doesn't have any MH issues. At the same time it's very very exciting and I think to some extent when you do get pregnant focusing on the baby and less on yourself might help you to overcome your fears. Remember that pregnancy is almost 10 months so that's a long time for you to get used to the idea of birth.

Most people have similar fears as you about giving birth. It's a scary process. However, I honestly think that when you're actually in it something takes over and you really stop thinking of yourself. I am a very private person but when I was giving birth I stripped naked and marched around the place with my bits hanging out and I couldn't have cared less.

I definitely think having a child is worth it. You're very aware of your issues so now is a good time to deal with them and to give yourself a chance to experience motherhood. Good luck smile

fruitybread Mon 03-Oct-11 18:51:32

I had an ELCS because of tokophobia - mental health issues. It involved seeing a psychiatrist, part of the perinatal mental health team, a Head MW, and a consultant - all were actually very helpful, luckily, and I had a very good CS and recovery.

It's not the same as similar birth fears, sorry, previous poster. Phobias are not normal fears. They go beyond that. It's like the difference between being very miserable, and being depressed. It's very frustrating and isolating for sufferers when people don't take that on board.

OP, you sound a bit different to me in that I never had a fear of being pregnant, just giving birth. So I can't really offer any advice about that, sorry. With birth, CS is an alternative to VB - but I can't see any alternative to pregnancy, if you want to carry and birth your child yourself. And I would imagine there are a fair few different routes to tokophobia, but I don't share your body anxieties either, so probably can't help there (my problems stem from childhood abuse and depression).

With birth phobia, you have several options - if you can pay for a private CS, there are people on this board who have done so and can offer advice (my experience is all NHS). I don't think for a moment from reading other threads, you will have a problem getting a private OB to agree to a CS.

You can go for further counselling and therapy. it may not be a magic wand (and it really pisses me off when posters here just assume you can get 'fixed' in this way - nothing is guaranteed with counselling or therapy) - BUT it will probably help to some degree. Even if you can't get to the point where you contemplate a VB yourself, it may help you simply be able to deal with other women's birth stories better, or cope with being in a maternity ward, for example. If you are having persistent negative thoughts or mental images, or recurring nightmares, I would see about getting help for this alone, tbh.

You can ask for a CS on the NHS, and are likely to get one, especially if you have psychiatric 'back up' - i.e, it's not just you asking for one, but a psychiatrist with experience of your phobia is recommending you have one.

I don't see that elective caesarians will be 'banned', and in fact current CS guidelines seem to be recommending that there is a more formally agreed route to them in the future - NICE is frankly a bit vague about it all atm - but policy varies a lot from hospital to hospital in the UK. It's probably worth investigating your local hospital, if you intend to go there, and seeing what their CS rate and policy is.

I hope some of these responses help. FWIW, I do think, given the level of your anxieties, that you would really benefit from some real life ongoing professional psychological support. No one here can do that, I'm afraid. I say this not in expectation that it will 'cure' you of your tokophobia, but that you will get help managing your anxiety, and allow you to tackle your problems in as positive a way as you can.

Good luck.

WantsToBeAMan Mon 03-Oct-11 23:03:28

Thank you so much for being so nice everyonesmile

I'm really,really scared. I will definitely have counselling throughout pregnancy ( if I ever get pregnant ).
I have nightmares about stretch marks and morning sickness and Braxton Hicks etc. I also take my career very seriously, so I keep worrying that being pregnant will impact my jobsad I simply hate the thought of something growing inside me.

Childbirth is my worst nightmare. The cesarian is just the lesser of two evils for me, nobody wants to have their abdomen cut open. But it is far preferable for me when compared to a vaginal birth.

I hope that when I decide to have a baby I will have money for a private cesarian. It would be less stressful than convincing NHS to do one.
I am relieved to hear that private doctors don't refuse the procedure.

WantsToBeAMan Mon 03-Oct-11 23:07:51

@Fruitybread
Did your tocophobia ever go away? Maybe mine will as well?

I feel nervous asking the NHS ever since I read that thread about a woman who had a scheduled cesarian and was made to deliver vaginally. If something like that happened to me, and that too at the last minute, I would die. I'm not joking, I would will God to kill me.

fruitybread Tue 04-Oct-11 07:20:39

Hi - no, phobia has not gone away. It has become more manageable, in that I can get through other women's accounts of birth, mostly, without leaving the room (post birth, other new mums you meet at bf groups, mum and baby groups etc, tend to want to talk about their experiences...). And I use abbreviations when talking about it myself - things like that help.
I do think you will be better off posting on the mental health board, as well as seeking help IRL. Your aim is to have a baby yourself despite your phobia, is that right? If so, I think you need to stay focused on that. (btw, you haven't posted before, have you? your style seems familiar but I can't remember previous posters name, sorry)

Good luck.

BagofHolly Tue 04-Oct-11 12:23:02

What does your partner and Canadian OB [sic] think?

WantsToBeAMan Tue 04-Oct-11 15:20:53

@Fruitybread

I have not posted in the childbirth section, but I have posted in other sections of mumsnet. Perhaps you saw my posts there?

@BagofHolly
I am not married nor am I Canadian.

Loopymumsy Tue 04-Oct-11 21:21:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WantsToBeAMan Wed 05-Oct-11 01:24:29

@ Loopymumsy

Hellosmile
It is really hard! See, I'm single at the moment. I don't know if the man I end up with will be open to adoption. In personally have nothing against it, but it won't just be my decision.

quietlyafraid Thu 20-Oct-11 13:32:59

Hey WantsToBeAMan

Just found this post and wanted to offer a bit of support after reading your other posts.

I'm assuming that your name comes from the fact that you resent being a woman and having to face this, if you want children. Men seem to have it so much easier! It makes you feel inferior and unfeminine right? You aren't and there are plenty of other people out there who share your fears. Its just taboo, no one talks about it and we have no place to really talk about it either. There doesn't seem to be any sort of support network and negative reactions and comments against maternal request c-sections are soul destroying?

Can I start with some positives here?
You have been pro-active in trying to deal with your fears. You seem to have support from your doctors and psychiatrist. This is a very good start. The fact they have suggested that a c-section might be the way forward means you have someone who will support you on NHS in your request. You sound like you have a good relationship with them and can talk to them about your fear. Congrats! Far from failing, you are winning part 1 of the battle!

Fruitbread's first hand experience is good and encouraging. Whilst one of my big fears is that its going to be a complete nightmare to get diagnosed, she is the proof that NHS is doing it for some women at least. We both need to try and focus on that... and by the sound of it, you already have been diagnosed so battle 2 won!

You also have a good deal of time on your side. You don't have to rush this, just take your time step by step. Not only is there a lot of time for policy changes, you are still unmarried and a lot of things can change in your life before you come to wanting babies. I'd add that saving up now is a really good plan as its an insurance policy and if you don't need it, you will a nice nest egg either just for you or for any new baby. I wish I had confronted this sooner, as I've been in denial about wanting children until recently and been hit squarely between the eyes with my body clock going boom and telling me different. Its a battle I don't feel I'm winning...

That said, whilst being aware of things and having a fair idea of what you want I don't think the time to start making decisions and worrying about this too much now though - its when you are settled and have a serious long term partner. Its important you discuss this with them from the word go though so they understand this is an enormous part of who you are. Having a partner to support you is going to be crucial whatever route you go down, whether it be no children, having a baby or even adopting. This isn't a decision you need to make alone so don't try to! All you succeeding in doing now is winding yourself more and more up about this. Take a step backwards and take things slowly.

As I said in the other thread, the tide seems to be slowly starting to turn in favour of tocophobia with the new draft NICE guidelines. Lets cross everything that this is the way it goes and try and ignore all the headlines about 'bans'. Its scary and worrying but no means a lost cause.

You sound like you understand a fair bit about your fear and can explain what bothers you most. You are doing better than me! We need to tackle each bit, bit by bit rather than a huge great big overwhelming fear. You seem to be doing that.

You put on another thread about having an elective earlier than 39 weeks to avoid ending up with an unexpected VBAC. There is a good reason for this - development of the baby. There is significant evidence from multiple studies showing it isn't in the best interests of the baby to be born before 39 weeks if possible. When I've looked at them they do seem reliable studies that I have confidence in. Other countries are still doing it, but with the weight of evidence even I would be reluctant to go earlier even though I share exactly the same fears of being forced to undergo a vaginal birth. I guess this is always going to be a concern - but looking at the chances of it, especially with fear apparently slowing labour it does seem a statistically small risk. Nothing is ever going to be risk free unfortunately... I dunno, its something to deal with somehow.

To get what you want, arm yourself with good reliable knowledge from reliable sources as far as you can. That means stop scaring yourself silly by reading some threads here! Yes you want to know the truth but the need to try and force yourself to get some perspective at the same time. Balance is crucial in what you read. Easier said than done and I'm guilty of doing the same thing, but I'm learning to try and back things up with facts rather than just going from anecdotes.

If you are considering going down the private elective route, you need to be aware of a potential big hurdle. You haven't said where you live, but if you are outside London it could be a problem. The only private maternity wards are currently only in the South East. That may make it an option not feasible to you if you live elsewhere in the country.

Otherwise it'll be a case of finding the right NHS hospital for you - looking at stats and hospital policies. Which is pretty pointless now, if you aren't considering having children for another 10 years.

Honestly, from where I'm standing, you seem to be doing everything right, but are pressuring yourself to make decisions that you can't possibly do at this point in your life. You are letting it take over when it need not be. If you want to do something now, I think the best thing you can do, is to actively try and promote what tocophobia is and why choice in childbirth is so important. Talking about tocophobia instead of hiding away in shame is a big step and we need to do it. Break the taboo.

Making others realise this, will hopefully ultimately help policy making in future be in your favour. Again, you seem to have a good understanding of this from reading what else you have put elsewhere. My only cavet is if you do so to try to avoid becoming too emotional in doing so, and to stick to being factual and backing up what you say with research as much as you can as the subject is one that often become very emotive and provokes passionate arguments. Be prepared to be patient and listen to others who are in very different circumstance to you and understand reasons why they may never agree or see your point of view. You won't win any hearts and minds by being overly emotional and confrontational.

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