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Fear of childbirth

(14 Posts)
4umbrela Mon 11-Feb-13 13:23:39

Hi guys, been a member for some time and thought I could pick your brains!
Has anyone else been terrified of childbirth to the point where it was stopping you from sleeping?
I'm 29 and would like to start a family and I know my partner would too. Been getting pressure from the family to have a baby esp' mother, and partner's mother. I just feel like I couldn't cope with the pain and would have a sort of mental breakdown. I'm an anxious, worried type person anyway (even dread going to the dentist) and to make it worse I work in a hospital and have to visit the labour ward every so often so as you can imagine how it has put me off!! Conversely I feel I may have been affected by my own mother telling me several times throughout my life how difficult/long/painful my own birth was, which resulted in a c/s due to pelvic disproportion, and wonder whether it has become ingrained in my psyche that childbirth is a thing to be avoided.
Would be grateful for any advice as I think I can't talk to anyone I know as I feel like I'm being pathetic. I am worried that I'll leave it too long and maybe experience fertility problems as I have heard some couples sadly do.

CailinDana Mon 11-Feb-13 13:54:01

Your feelings are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. Giving birth is scary, everyone feels afraid of it to a certain extent but it's different if your fear is stopping you from having children.

Would you consider having counselling to work through your feelings? If your fears are not a phobia then talking them through might make them manageable. If it is a phobia and you're not able to overcome it then you might have the option of having a c-section for mental health reasons - would you consider that?

4umbrela Mon 11-Feb-13 14:34:41

I think you may be right it is stopping me. I think the best thing I can do is see if my GP will suggest counselling. I feel much the same way about c/s as I do about v/b really.
I feel happier now I have spoken to someone about it thank u for your kind words :-)

Ushy Mon 11-Feb-13 15:00:15

Definitely not being pathetic zebra

I developed anxiety about childbirth following a really horrific first birth and have actually given birth by just about all possible means - natural, epidural, c/s etcsmile

To be honest, although the epidural birth was the quickest to recover from, I was also lucky that nothing went wrong. Elective caesarean reduces the uncertainty ( whatever you might be told, if you are planning only one or two children, elective caesarean is as safe as natural birth. The risks are different but no greater. The US did a detailed and unbiased study involving lots of international research. There is a lot of rubbish peddled about the 'risks' of caesarean but actually nearly all the risk is of emergency caesarean not elective caesarean.)

I have had more children than it is safe to have by caesarean but had I only wanted one or two, knowing what I now know, I would have chosen elective caesarean despite the slower recovery. It is uncomfortable but it certainly doesn't have the possibility to be horrific as vaginal birth can be.

One of the first things that I did after recovering from my awful vaginal birth was to save enough cash to ensure that my daughter would never have to give birth vaginally if she didn't want to. Then I had another one so had to do it twice shock

So don't let anyone make you feel a wuss - you're definitely not. You have seen labour wards - you know what they are like in the NHS so you are wise to be wary. Good lucksmile

Ushy Mon 11-Feb-13 15:09:21

Zebra sorry my post crossed, I didn't realise you were also worried about c/s as well. I can only say (although I had a sedative) it was a totally calm, relaxed and very odd to say -interesting - experience. I know that is a bizarre thing to say about the birth but that was the overriding memory.

Cailin is right though, it would be a good idea to talk this through with someone because we are all different and what is ok for me might not be ok for you.

Hope you get on ok xx

4umbrela Mon 11-Feb-13 15:23:05

Hi Ushy. It's good to hear someone talk about c/s from both perspectives. You have more than one child so its reassuring to know that having your 1st didn't put you off completely ;-). I think the fact that an elective c/s is calmer would help someone who's anxious anyway like me. There is another thread going on where they are talking about how fear works against your body anyway so can't help feeling I would be very fearful even before I went into labour.
Thanks for helping feel so much better now I have spoken to someone with some experience ;-)

JuliaScurr Mon 11-Feb-13 17:01:39

Epidurals are good for pain relief - I never felt a thing smile

have you considered hypnotherapy? It worked on my dentist phobia

4umbrela Mon 11-Feb-13 17:22:29

Thanks Julia that's reassuring glad to hear a success story concerning epidurals, it seems all you hear are the horror stories sometimes .

I have thought about hypnotherapy yes I don't know how much such a thing costs but I think it would be worth a try. The funny thing is I know it's all in my head, I'm aware of it, and a sense of calm and relaxation might be just what I need.

RedToothBrush Mon 11-Feb-13 18:11:03


A couple of things that might be of interest to you.

Studies have shown that as many as 1 in 10 to 1 in 6 women may suffer from fear of childbirth which is problematic. The subject is simply a taboo one.

In 2011 the NICE guidelines on CS were updated to include references about requests made for an CS on the grounds of extreme fear and anxiety. This reflects the fact that tokophobia (an extreme fear of childbirth) is now an officially recognised medical condition.

These guidelines actually say that they do not know how to deal with women who have this problem. Counselling and extra support during labour for a VB have been suggested as ways to deal with it, in addition to allowing CS in these cases. There is no definitive treatment as no one really fully understands the problem. I suggest that there actually never will be as I think fear of birth probably covers a range of different reasons and triggers which people cope with in different ways. For some a vb homebirth seems to be the way to go. For others getting a doula. For others a CS. And others still to reach the decision not to have children at all. You just need to find what fits you.

The research in this country on tokophobia is limited but some research has been done Scandinavia which is slightly better. It seems to suggest that women who have primary tokophobia (fear of childbirth when a woman has had no children), have similar characteristics. A history of anxiety problem is one.

Another is that it can often start when you are a child and can be related to an experience or very negative association to do with childbirth from an early age. So having a mother who had a bad experience that she recounted to you, could have an influence and does fit with this suggested pattern as you suspect.

Having said that, and I do think this is pretty important to you, given what you've said - there have been studies into whether the experience of your mother is likely to repeat itself when you have a child. To date NO study has found a clear or significant link between birth experience between mother and daughter; it seems to be more down to the position of the baby and other more complex factors rather than purely what happened to your mother.

I also know there has been argument about diagnosis of pelvic disproportion in our parent's generation as being over diagnosed and was often in fact down to other factors (such as I mentioned before, position of the baby or birthing position of the mother) rather than truly about the baby's head being too big.

This doesn't necessarily help as if you have such a deeply ingrained belief it is hard to separate your feelings from what seems to be the scientific evidence as we tend to give much heavier weight to our personal experiences and those close to us than a bunch of figures we are unconnected with. And yeah its possible that this could mean you are more stressed about birth in general and this might affect your experience anyway.

In your favour, is you know this is an issue, so you have the opportunity to find a suitable way for you to deal with it. And you are talking about it here, rather than suffering in silence about it. Thats a big positive.

I think the best approach to start to get an idea of which way to go and what your biggest hang ups are is to write down what each little thing that bothers you, and try and address them one by one. Understand your fear and it puts you in a position to know how to cope with it better.

You are not unusual and you are not being in any way pathetic. Like I say this is a taboo subject, which is really not being helped by a number of very inaccurate and damaging myths out there, precisely because people don't talk about this. Childbirth IS one of the most dangerous and difficult events in a woman's life; it is perfectly understandable and natural to have fear of that. Its not weak. Its not always simply a case of just being able to 'get on' with it either - in the same way a depressed person, can't just 'pull themselves' together - some people need help and extra reassurance compared to 'a normal person' to deal with it.

P.S. Do this at YOUR OWN pace. Do not be pressured by family or friends around you, as you already have enough from your own anxieties to deal with.

4umbrela Mon 11-Feb-13 20:06:10

Thanks redtoothbrush so much for your advice and for taking the time to help me. What you said made sense of a lot of the worries I have been having and maybe it is more psychological than I thought.just having advice from you guys on the site today feels like it has really lifted the weight glad I logged on today.funny how I couldn't have spoken to anyone I know about this but I feel OK about talking to you. Like many people out there I feel like I didn't want to wait until it was too late for me to have a child and then the choice is made for me anyway. Even considering adopting but don't think its an option for us really as I believe its difficult to be approved. At least now I have thought about some of my options and maybe speaking to gp about a Cs might be an idea, thanks so much for your kind words .

Ariel24 Mon 11-Feb-13 21:15:23

Hi Zebra, I've posted several times on mumsnet about my experience, I have tokophobia (pathological fear of childbirth). I was granted a c/s on the NHS and had wonderful antenatal care. However, I didn't seek help before becoming pregnant, I would strongly urge you to go see your gp and even be asked to be referred to a consultant obstetrician (mine advised me this could have been done which I didn't realise).

I had my c/s as planned and now have my beautiful 4mo DD who is so worth all of it. The c/s was fine, I didn't have much pain and I was even able to have it under general anaesthetic to reduce my stress even more.

Good luck whatever you decide to do x

4umbrela Tue 12-Feb-13 19:09:42

Thanks so much Ariel. Its reassuring to know I'm not the only one. I don't know if I have homophobia but

4umbrela Tue 12-Feb-13 19:14:49

Hi ariel please ignore my last computer changed the word to 'homophobia' and then i accidently clicked post ! .I meant to say...

I don't know if I have tokophobia but I suspect I do.I hope my gp will be understanding, from a lot of the replies I have has a Cs may be an option for me . now just need to speak to my partner about all this !!

Pinkflipflop Wed 13-Feb-13 03:26:10

I just wanted to say that I had many anxieties around giving birth but didn't really feel able to discuss them. Anyway as it turned out my baby was breech and I needed a CS; am now holding my delicious 2 week old son!

The CS was the absolute best experience ever and I couldn't have wished for a better birth! I would highly rate a CS. Yes there is a recovery period but as long as you have help it isn't that bad.

Best wishes

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