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Petrified of Birth

(154 Posts)
Pegasus1234 Thu 31-May-12 19:24:07


Im new on here. Im 21 weeks+ and this is my first baby.

I met with my consultant today for the first time. I am consultant led because of fibroids and previous overactive bladder problems for which I was under the gynaecologist.

I explained that I was terrified of giving birth and wished to be considered for C section.

I am not too posh to push, just have an absolute deep rooted fear, it makes me physically sick, cant sleep due to anxiety etc. Having nightmares. I also have personal reasons I wont go into going back to my teens.

I felt totally indimidated there were 4 people in the room in total all staring at me, judging me.

The consultant basically didnt listen to me, and asked if a tour of the labour ward would help!!

Being a health professional myself I explained that I knew exactly what was involved. I have observed both births and c sections as part of my nurse training.

He said they dont perform sections for women without a medical reason.
I would have thought that fibroids, bladder weakness and absolute fear would be reasons.

Im not a particularly confident person, and make it difficult to have my voice heard sometimes. I just felt I was being dismissed as a silly woman who needed to go home .

I feel helpless, so upset and alone.

Can anyone offer any advice, or has been through a similar situation.


jkklpu Thu 31-May-12 19:29:18

Sorry to hear this. Do you have a dp who could go to next apptmt with you and help give you advocacy support?

Pegasus1234 Thu 31-May-12 19:48:10

Yes, but due to work commitments he cant always be present. My parents live 150 miles away, otherwise I would take my Mum.

The Midwife seems supportive, I did tell her today, and she said I should explain my fears to the Consultant. Unforunately, she didnt come in the room with me.

NeedlesCuties Thu 31-May-12 21:27:36

Could your GP or other health professional who knows you well advocate on your behalf?

Is good you're willing to be strong and press for what you want, hope they listen.

HmmThinkingAboutIt Thu 31-May-12 22:27:50

Hey! Sticks hand up and says "You aren't alone". Quite a few people here who are like you. No need to justify the fact you aren't too posh to push. I'm yet to see anything do that here, or say there is even such a thing, so relax! You are not a silly woman - don't let anyone treat you like you are. Anxiety is a mental health problem and you have a right for them to be taken series rather than be dismissed in the way you have. Unfortunately some HCP are living in the dark ages and think they can just phobe you off on this. The truth is you may have to be unnaturally pushy for you on this one though, so might need to build yourself up for a fight.

If you are HCP yourself I'm pretty sure you are aware of the new NICE guidelines. Some places and consultants are better than others with them - its a complete lottery. Even though hospitals aren't obliged to follow, they are your new best friend. They were changed precisely for people like you. Again - you are not alone - its a recognised MEDICAL problem. Its important that you recognise this if you feel you are being dismissed - don't let them - you are not being difficult.

The guidelines about maternal request were most specifically for women suffering from anxiety. Make sure you are familiar with them as can show you fully understand the risks and can explain your reasons for wanting a c-section. Numerous people on here have said that having the support of your partner when you talk to your consultant can make a big difference. It shows you are serious.

If the consultant you have is being dismissive - ask to see another one for another opinion. If this is causing you that much anxiety it is affecting your sleep and giving you nightmares ask to be refered to a mental health midwife. It will help your case and hopefully get someone to recognise that you have a phobia and need extra support with this.

There are a lot of thread in this section on a similar theme. Sadly, a lot of women are having to go through this stressful process and feel they aren't being listen to. You'll get plenty of support in this section if you need it.

HmmThinkingAboutIt Thu 31-May-12 22:29:03

Write things down in advance if you don't feel able to speak.

Pegasus1234 Fri 01-Jun-12 08:48:14

Thanks so much for this. It is good to know you have the support of other like minded women.

I had a terrible nights sleep, and have woken up with a thumping hangover style headache (Havent touched a drop honestly!!!).

I am in a better frame of mind today, and am prepared to fight for what I believe is right for myself, and hopefully other women in this situation.

Would it be wrong to write a letter to the consultant, and to the Gynaecologist I saw previously who herself is an obstetrician?? What do you think?.

I think i can get my points across better on paper, as I seem to freeze face to face. Its so ridiculous as I am a HCP myself. I ask patients questions all the time.

I wished I had of kept the female Gyne/Obs consultant, as she knows my history. I was given the choice. Its just her clinics were held some 20 odd miles away, whereas his are on the doorstep. I suppose I can always change.

Once again any advice appreciated, and thanks again

fruitybread Fri 01-Jun-12 09:58:59

Hi Pegasus -

If you have access to a more sympathetic consultant then I would go for it, even if they are further away. Twenty miles versus your anxiety about dealing with people who will not listen to you is worth it, IMO.

Yes, by all means write things down. If you struggle to get things across in person then it's much much better than coming out of a meeting flustered and upset that you haven't managed to say what you wanted.

Btw, I'm not clear why there needed to be four people present in the room when you talked to a consultant? Esp if your MW wasn't there. If they were medical students, you should have been asked first and you can refuse. Also, if you have to talk about anything personal like fear/anxiety then for the vast majority of people, the more of an audience they have, the harder it is.

It will depend very much on the nature of your existing or previous bladder problems, and what your consultant says, but urinary incontinence or other bladder issues aren't usually taken into account as physical reasons for a CS. It's usually only foecal incontinence that is taken on board as a possible reason. I'm not saying that's right, but that's the way it is. So you should really emphasise the anxiety and mental health problems you have, and not discuss the other issues too much. The thing is, if you come across as 'I have bladder problems and fibroids and these are partly contributing towards my fear of VB' then if a consultant says 'but a VB won't give you any problems there, so that's allayed your anxiety, and you're having a VB, bye' - well, that's you done and dusted, isn't it.

The NICE guidelines are on your side, but as hospitals don't HAVE to follow them, you can't just point to them and say, there, them's the rules (as you're a nurse you'll know all this anyway, sorry if it sounds like I'm teaching you to suck eggs).

However, if you can put all your fears in writing as clearly as you can, and then refer to the NICE guidelines for maternal request CS, you will be further on than you are now. If you have previous experiences you don't want to discuss as it is too painful, don't leave them out, just find a way of referring to them in the way you are most comfortable with. No details if it's just too much. If you have a history of sexual abuse, or have suffered a sexual assault for example, you can say just that - you can also say that you find discussing this very upsetting and this is why you find it very hard to bring up in a face to face meeting. They should take what you have said on board but be sensitive about 'raking over the ashes'.

If you are offered counselling it's up to you whether you go for it or not - if you are worried you are being 'fobbed off' or bullied into a VB then make sure you get meetings with your consultant in the diary alongside the counselling. That way you won't get 'sent off' for counselling and then not seen again until week 37, for example - which wait can be very distressing for phobic mums to be, and leave them feeling as if their 'fate' is to be decided at the last minute.

I'm not anti-counselling btw, I'm quite pro - but it does bother me that some women on these boards have felt that 'counselling' under these circumstances consists of pressuring an anxious woman to have a VB.

Hope some of that helps and good luck.

JungAndEasilyFreudened Fri 01-Jun-12 13:41:08

Hi, so sorry to hear you are finding your care team unsupportive. From my experience (expecting first baby and a c section most likely due to birth phobia) you can ask to deliver in whichever hospital you like thereby accessing different Drs and midwives.

If you feel you would get more support elsewhere ask to swap ASAP.

If your midwife is supportive keep in touch with her, make additional appointments and say you aren't coping with things as they stand, what can you do next?

Good luck, I agree with previous posters that waiting for appointments and decisions to be made only increases anxiety, hopefully switching at least your consultant may make a huge difference.

Pegasus1234 Fri 01-Jun-12 14:08:15

Thank you for your supportive messages. I see my midwife at 25 weeks and will discuss it again then. I dont want to disrespect the team, I know some excellent Midwifery colleagues but the team at my surgery all seem a bit "fluffy" ie) all older midwives in their 50s, who advocate scented candles, massage and yoga. Im sure this will help a lot of women, but just not me. I feel awful for saying this, as they are only trying to help.

It amazes me at the difference of quality of care and opinions across the UK. It really is a postcode lottery, and unfair that some people are able to access good quality care and others really have to fight for it.

HmmThinkingAboutIt Fri 01-Jun-12 15:30:30

You aren't disrespecting anyone by trying to do what you think is right for you!!!

If you are suffering from tocophobia, which it sounds like, then isn't something you can rationalise easily, and whilst you are a nurse and you feel you should be supportive of your colleagues you have other concerns of your own that you need to put first here. Phobias are irrational, and they conflict with everything else rational that we might otherwise think in our every day lives. That's why they are phobias rather than more easily solved fears.

It is ok to be selfish on this and it is ok to put yourself first without feeling like you might upset other people. At the end of the day, they aren't the ones living with the anxiety. I really think its important to stress in this situation, its a mental health issue, which means you might need extra support and treating differently from the average woman.

You need to have people supporting you through this who are on your wavelength and understand why you feel like you do. Whats completely right for others, isn't necessarily right for you. There is no shame in that. You don't need to make excuses or justify yourself constantly. Everyone is different. You shouldn't feel guilty or beat yourself up about that. The taboo of it all is a really hard thing to break thats the problem - I think a lot of woman are very defensive about it, especially due to the attitudes they sometimes encounter, but they shouldn't do.

There is plenty of research to suggest that the problem is significantly bigger than people realise and that there needs to be a lot more awareness and understanding by the public and the health profession. Its just how you get that message across that is the problem.

Wigglewoo Fri 01-Jun-12 15:36:24


I'm due to have an elcs after a previous difficult birth with dd 8 years ago. I am due with ds in 2 weeks time and I finally got my elcs booked at my 32 week appointment ... I was completely depressed for most of the pregnancy worried that they wouldn't give me a c section!!

The way I fought my case was to get my GP and midwife on side and told them that unless they agreed that a c section would be better for me that I was absolutely sure I wouldn't bond with the baby and that I would suffer from horrendous pnd (which is what happened with dd, I know your experience is a little bit different as this is your first baby but you could say the same thing). I then got them to write to the consultant at the hospital. I had two appointments with him - the first one he was very dismissive and basically waved me off like a silly woman (makes me so angry!) but I sent him a long letter saying I understood all the risks and that I didn't think he was taking me seriously so he invited me back for another appointment and at this one after some serious arguing he booked me in for my elcs.

I think the main thing is to focus on how it's going to damage your mental health to have a vaginal birth, how the risks of being forced to do so would be detrimental to your bond with the baby and how you are willing to consider counselling (as they will try and push you into this) but you know it won't change your mind (I lied and said I had been privately, I didn't go at all, I knew it wouldn't have made a difference).

I have found people's attitudes absolutely ridiculous to be honest. I don't know why people feel they have the right to have an opinion about how a woman gives birth when it is HER body and HER baby. It's absolutely anger inducing. Even now - with 2 weeks to go till my section date - I still have people saying I'm too posh to push and all this utter crap... But if I was too posh to push, who cares? It's not their fanjo the baby has to come out of is it!

I've ended up being a lot stronger since all this... Get firm, and argue your case. If your consultant refuses then ask to be referred elsewhere. Good luck x

Pegasus1234 Fri 01-Jun-12 18:12:29

This is all very positive stuff, thanks, and I feel so much better for reading all of your comments. I have also had some excellent sound advice from Gina at

I now feel prepared and armed to fight my case. I shall draft a couple of letters over the weekend, ready to send off next week. I will also make an apt to see my GP.

It helps to know that others are going through or have gone through this before me, and I am not alone.

Wigglewoo-I wish you all the very best in 2 weeks for your section. Im sorry you had such a stressful pregnancy, and had to wait until you were 32 wks before you were agreed your elcs. Enjoy your precious son :-) x

first1 Sat 02-Jun-12 06:45:14

My sisters argument for a cs was telling her consultant who works in both nhs / private was bluntly "Mr P, if I walked into your private clinic waving a cheque for thousands of pounds you'd definitely agree wouldn't you? Well I'm still the same person with the same issues just not the money. You need to have the same standards for your nhs patients". She got her elcs at 39 weeks grin

thunksheadontable Sun 03-Jun-12 22:07:59

Hi Pegasus

I have had a consultant appointment like yours and it's terribly demoralising to confess your fears and feel you are being spoken to like a small child. I really like first1's sister's argument and feel there is a lot of truth to it... I would certainly throw it out there!

On the other hand, I would advise you to have some counselling about your anxiety to ensure it is specific to vb. When I was around 14 weeks pregnant with this dc, I was fairly sure that I had a very specific fear relating to induction of labour following what I had experienced as a traumatic birth.

24 weeks later and I have just settled on a homebirth up to 41 weeks but have requested an induction after this date...

It turned out for me that my anxiety was not specific to vb, and I only realised this when a cs became more viable. It seems for me to be related to the uncertainty of bringing another baby into the world knowing I can't control the medical outcome for me or the baby, and not all the other things that I thought it might be (though, like you, I had "good reasons" in terms of back pain etc that were rational etc). I have a particular fear of feeling helpless and dismissed when I am vulnerable and then finding that my care has been inadequate and caused physical pain, or worse, death for me or my baby. It's just an elevated state of a normal anxiety that all women have and it relates in complex ways to my upbringing, past experience of birth and the way in which I assume responsibility for all sorts of things I can't actually be feasibly expected to control.

It's been a massive journey and who knows where yours will take you. I totally support all women's righ to choose whatever birth suits them as I think it's complicated and unique and a cs may well be the right decision for you, but I think it's worth checking out in some detail to ensure this fear isn't telling you something different to what you think it is. I have learned a lot about myself through this process and I think I will emerge from it stronger, wiser and more empathetic and that has NOTHING to do with the type of birth I have chosen, but the difficulties I have faced in choosing it. I wish you every luck in finding the right path for you, whatever that may be.

39 + 1 today... wish me luck ;)

justhayley Mon 04-Jun-12 09:53:14

One word - hypnobirthing! The classes are expensive but u can read the books. Everytime I thought of labour & felt scared I would lie to myself and say I can't wait to give birth and try and get myself excited about it! I would also highly recommend a breathing & relaxation class it was so helpful and remembering what I had learnt calmed me down and took away the fear during labour - which actually decreased the pain. Everytime I panicked the contractions were more painful.
Also acupuncture - it's known to shorten labour. I had a few sessions from 26 weeks and one when my waters broke. My labour was 4 hours from first contraction and I had no pain relief not even gas and air! The only thing that got me through was remaining calm and focusing on breathing with ever brain cell and body part.

Remember your body is designed to give birth and at the end of it ul have a beautiful baby. You will get through labour - yes it hurts but it comes to an end & in my experience wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Youl do great x

HmmThinkingAboutIt Mon 04-Jun-12 10:46:55

your body is designed to give birth

This is the crap I can't bare.

Tell that to the millions of women who die in childbirth, or would die without a cs. Not to mention the number of women who end up with long term problems after giving birth.

Our bodies may or may not be able to give birth. Its pot luck.

All this our bodies were designed, is damaging and make women feel a failure if there is a problem and they don't achieve that. And its not even true for a hell of a lot of people.

Hypobirthing I'm sure can be helpful for a great many people. I just wish it wasn't dressed with false expectations and lies.

mcupples Tue 05-Jun-12 18:16:07

I agree with HmmThinkingAboutIt. The so called "natural" birth might have been natural hundreds of years ago when:
1. there was far less food available and babies would be smaller
2. people (including mothers-to-be) would be more physically active
3. women would have their first baby at the age of 16 (19 the latest) and as we know if we postpone the first childbirth for later there is a bigger chance of complications

I think it is unacceptable to leave women nowadays to suffer with such pain for hours and days. There would be women now who would attack me and say that childbirth is such a wonderful experience and there is no pain or if there was any you would forget it the moment you have your baby in your hands. People should respect the choice of women and try to understand them and not to attack them. We have the right to choose what is best for our body and our baby.

I know how you feel Pegasus1234. I am in the same fear - I cannot sleep during the night, and daytime I have bad headaches. I am still to meet a mw and I do not know how they will react to my wish.
Do you live in England - as far as I know you have the choice there for a c-section or natural.
I am so terrified from natural birth that I made some research in case they refuse me a c section here. I have found a country in the EU where a c section would cost ~£1000 (which is cheaper than a natural birth here!). And using "the S2 route" under the NHS I will get the money back. What worries me is that I have to spend almost 2 months there as you cannot fly in the last month of the pregnancy and cannot fly back with a baby younger than 2 weeks.

Good luck and keep us updated

RockChick1984 Tue 05-Jun-12 19:02:17

I think the biggest thing is to figure out WHY you are so terrified of natural birth, I felt that way before getting pregnant (unplanned) and at the start of my pregnancy. I didn't think counselling would make any difference, I wanted a c section!

I dealt with an excellent CBT therapist, for both this and my antenatal depression, and once we established what I was so scared of relating to the birth, I was able to overcome my fears. All I'm saying, is accept the counselling if offered but please go into it with an open mind, I'm now incredibly glad I had a natural birth, and was over it far quicker than others who had sections!

HmmThinkingAboutIt Tue 05-Jun-12 19:06:47

mcupples, I would be interested in knowing your research on that subject... I would be very grateful if you could pm me.

I'm looking for as many alternative ideas and possibilities as possible, as at the moment. The politics in the UK are just awful at the moment, and I don't trust the system.

RalucaV Tue 05-Jun-12 21:24:16

I know exactly why I fear vaginal/natural childbirth and don't need a therapist to find that out for me. All the things I fear happen to most women that have vaginal childbirth and some happen to a few, but they NEVER happen to anyone who has a CS. I also know myself and know how I react in great distress when I feel cornered and I'm telling you that it's not very pretty. Therefore, no amount of counseling would ever change my mind.
I don't understand how counseling could change your mind so radically. Really, I don't. And it's not because I distrust therapists, I actually have good experience with them. I just find that totally funny that someone would try to "cure" me out of totally rational fear into having the most painful and dangerous thing that can happen to someone (childbirth is 10 on pain scale for most women and that pain can last for up to 3 FK DAYS!!!!)

MaxineQuordlepleen Tue 05-Jun-12 21:32:57

I totally agree with justhayley. Why not consider hypnobirthing? What do you have to lose by reading up on it? It has helped many women overcome their fears.

RalucaV Tue 05-Jun-12 21:37:52

if you don't believe in it and if you don't want to be "cured" of your fear, it's a waste of money. It would be for me, I can guarantee you that because I simply don't believe in these techniques, I'm too rational for that. I believe only in my common sense that has never failed me.

RockChick1984 Tue 05-Jun-12 22:37:58

Raluca there's plenty that can go wrong with a c section as well, there's a thread currently re VB or ELCS with SPD that has some people's experiences of CS which are far worse in my opinion than what I experienced in labour, things can go smoothly or things can go wrong with any birth, the only way to avoid it completely is to not have children!

Clearly you have made up your mind so nothing is worth trying for you to overcome your fears, I was tryin to help the OP by explaining my own experiences.

thunksheadontable Tue 05-Jun-12 22:57:41

Raluca, so you want a cs. Fair enough. It does not mean that therapy or hypnobirthing are irrational.

The point of hypnobirthing is that it focuses on relaxation as a means to support the hormonal processes that propel labour, a subtle dynamic between adrenalin and oxytocin. Too much adrenalin too early blocks oxytocin production and increases pain and stalls labour, breathing and relaxing can facilitate oxytocin release. Breathing through and remaining positive that you will manage the pain are really not at all "irrational" practices, though they will not work for or suit every woman for each stage of labour. A very great many women I know who never "hypnobirthed" will describe what they instinctually did to get through labour as being quite like what is taught on those courses.. controlling breathing, focusing on something specific as an image, "going into themselves".

The point of therapy is to tackle the underlying issues that make the uncertainty, risk and pain of birth acceptable for some of us and unacceptable for others. There end to be deep-seated reasons that make some of us feel we can't cope in that situation... and for a few of us here who have had that fear, therapy has been helpful.

That's no reason for you to want to go down eirther route if it doesn't seem right to you, but I think that assuming that people who choose a different path or favour vaginal birth over cs are being irrational or that a cs is the more common sense approach to dealing with fear is... well.. a little irrational.

I also wholeheartedly agree with Rockchick.. birth is unpredictable and fraught with risk no matter how you do it. Having a child even more so, really. There is no moral obligation to do it one way or the other, but there are really very few irrational choices.

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