Fear of childbirth - where does it come from?
When we think of a woman giving birth, we think of it as being the most natural thing in the world. There is so much more information accessible to us now compared to that of our ancestors and with a variety of birth preparation classes and pain relief options available, women in the 21st Century should be more relaxed and confident in what to expect than at any other time in history.
Giving birth has progressed so much in the last 50 years with the options available providing a safer birth for mum and baby now than at any other time. Women who would have previously been advised against having a family or found themselves unable to conceive for medical reasons are now enjoying the wonderful experience of motherhood. The options of pain relief in labour are varied and numerous and women can have informed choice on how they would like to deliver and who they would like to support them through this special time.
For some women, however, this is a very anxious time which brings with it a fear that is so powerful that they spend their entire pregnancy dreading the day that they will give birth. In some extreme cases, women have been known to make their family planning decisions based on their fear of what the birth experience will bring.
These fears can sometimes be related to specific events such as personal experience from a previous birth. Women who feel traumatized by giving birth, whether from the physical experience or an emotional one, sometimes find that the thought of going through it again is just too much.
This form of fear of childbirth is obvious in origin and in some ways can be easier to support, having related it to a specific event.
There is another form of fear of childbirth which is less obvious. The first time mum who has not yet given birth may find it harder to explain and more importantly, find it harder to be taken seriously. There are some people who will find it difficult to understand how anyone can be afraid of something that they have never experienced.
This fear may come from a number of sources. If someone has a medical condition that, for whatever reason, makes giving birth more difficult, this can add to any existing anxiety. Equally, the fear may have come from something unrelated to childbirth but which has caused an indirect fear to occur. A common cause of tocophobia (fear of childbirth) is hearing stories and experiences of others which can instil a fear in someone who has not been through the experience personally. This may be related to the age of the person hearing the story as we are very susceptible to absorbing information in our younger years. It may also be related to how vulnerable someone is feeling when she hears the story.
We are not born with an innate fear of childbirth. Fear is designed to keep us alive and fear of giving birth is a contradiction of our inherent desire to protect our species i.e. produce the next generation to keep mankind going.
Tocophobia is a very real condition for those who are experiencing it and causes increased anxiety at what should be such an enjoyable time. Hypnotherapy can help alleviate those fears and feelings associated with giving birth and help women to enjoy their pregnancy whilst focusing on the birth in a positive and practical way.
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About Catherine Evans
Catherine Evans is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist working in a private practice in Reading. She works with a variety of clients and has a special interest in working with issues related to pregnancy and post-birth.