Overcoming Fear of Birth

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    Here is an atricle from the Irish Independent about overcoming ‘Tokophobia’ which is a pathological fear of childbirth. Very helpful for anyone with any anxieties about giving birth…

    http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/par … 76152.html

    Dennis O’Sullivan, a first time dad-to-be from Co Cork, stared at his wife in disbelief and asked the midwives: "Who is this woman who has replaced my wife?"

    He could not believe what he was seeing. Barbara was inthe throes of a difficult and stressful labour but rather than fall apart, she remained calm and focused.

    Dennis was amazed because Barbara has a pathological fear of childbirth.

    The condition, known as tokophobia, has become increasingly common and has been recognised by psychologists. It is so serious that some women avoid pregnancy altogether and others opt for planned C-sections because they cannot cope with the stress their fear of birth induces.

    Barbara knows exactly how that feels. She remembers clearly the first time she saw two blue lines on a pregnancy test: "We had been trying for a baby and while I was excited to be pregnant, I was also terrified. I have a morbid fear of hospitals, needles and especially giving birth and had firmly decided I wanted a planned C-section."

    Barbara found an understanding obstetrician who assured her that if she really could not cope, a scheduled c-section could be arranged.

    "I was relieved about the C-section but then I wondered if I could face my fears and go through with the birth."

    Barbara researched ways to deal with her tokophobia and discovered hypnobirthing on a UK website.

    "I contacted them with a view to travelling over to take some classes but they told me that I could do something similar in Ireland called GentleBirth."

    Barbara booked herself and her sceptical husband Dennis into a GentleBirth weekend course.

    "There were lots of women on their second and third pregnancies there, telling stories about horrific birth experiences and how they were trying GentleBirth to get a better experience this time," she says.

    "As a first time mum-to-be, I was so frightened by their stories that I stood up and asked them to stop, as they were making me feel worse about my impending birth."

    Barbara went on a ‘fear- release’ workshop to help her come to terms with why she was so afraid of giving birth.

    She says: "I realised I was afraid because I had learned to be afraid. The media and other women had taught me birth was painful, terrifying and dramatic. Using the techniques I learned through GentleBirth I started to think positively about birth."

    ‘I repeatedly visualised my birth being a positive experience, in the hope this would change my expectations. I listened to CDs, read books and practised techniques designed to get me through the labour and birth calmly. However, I will admit that even though I was trying my best to be positive, there was still a part of me that was frightened."

    While Barbara wanted a peaceful and natural birth, things did not go according to plan.

    "My blood pressure went up and I was artificially induced into labour; which was not the best start. I spent the night labouring slowly and becoming very tired, so I asked for an epidural.

    "Thankfully, the techniques I learned really did work and I remained calm and quiet during all this; my husband fell asleep beside me. The next morning, when the midwife found I had reached 10cm dilated, she asked cheekily whether or not she should wake my husband up!"

    Barbara was ready for her baby to be born and was feeling proud for doing so well — but despite lots of pushing, baby refused to come out.

    His heart beat had slowed down so Barbara was urgently prepped for theatre, first to try delivery with forceps and if that failed, an emergency C-section.

    She recalls: "I still felt incredibly calm. My husband, however, was a mess. He put his gown on the wrong way and was flabbergasted that I was so relaxed. My obstetrician, who had been very attentive and supportive, said I could try three pushes with the forceps but if that did not work, it would have to be an emergency C-section, for the baby’s sake."

    With Dennis properly gowned up, Barbara started the almighty pushing to try and get their baby into the world and finally, on the third push, little baby Odhran was born, to an ecstatic set of parents.

    Barbara says: "Having such a positive and successful birth was empowering for me and it has changed my life in many ways. I am thrilled to have such a wonderful son and I love being his mother.

    "He has been a ray of sunshine in our lives; he is such a happy little guy, and I put some of that down to GentleBirth and because I was so calm during and after the birth. I was able to breastfeed without any problems and I think that has a lot to do with my own confidence, I was relaxed and it all happened easily and naturally."

    Barbara reckons it is sad that people focus on the pain of labour because that is such a small part of the experience. "When I decided to look at it as something I could do and enjoy, I stopped feeling scared. Changing my mindset worked out great for me and I look forward to doing it again!"

    Tracy Donegan, author of The Better Birth Book, runs GentleBirth and fear-release workshops around the country.

    She says: "Fear of birth is a learned behaviour and can be reversed with self-hypnosis programmes such as GentleBirth. Hypnosis can change how women feel about pregnancy and childbirth, easily and effectively.

    "Learning relaxation techniques means women can enjoy pregnancy with significantly reduced anxiety levels for both mum and baby.

    "Excessive, chronic stress in pregnancy is associated with low birth weight babies and premature labour. Hypnosis is not magic but it definitely feels that way to the women who go from planning a c-section under general anaesthetic, to comfortable enjoyable pregnancies and even blissful births!"

    For more information about GentleBirth log onto http://www.GentleBirth.ie

    – Siobhan O’Neill-White
    Irish Independent


    Big thanks to the lovely, bubbly Barbara who gave her story for this article…she is a real inspiration to lots of mums-to-be out there.

    Thanks so much Barbara. 😉


    Great read…. i dont know but i NEVER worried about the birth, couldnt see the point in stressing myself. Was as cool as a polar bears poo, i looked at it as when goes up must come down….. it has to come out someway or another


    I think some women are very afraid and the fear escalates and they get really worried about it and becomes a huge fear for them. The media does not help, with the way TV shows and soaps depict birth, its always dramatic, at the side of the road or else in a hospital with the woman shouting, screaming and trying to punch her partner or something like that.

    The term for fear of childbirth has been named as ‘Tokophobia’ and this is a legitimately recognised phobia some women now suffer from.

    I think its great that Barbara was able to overcome all those fears and have a great birth. Shows it can be done, fair play to her. Hope it is helpful reading for some mums-to-be. 🙂


    oh i wasnt knocking the phobia, i know its real…. phobias defy logic, i have a fear of spiders, i know they are tiny compared to me…. but all logic and reason goes out the window when i see one!!!

    i did have a fear of a c section, but after having 2 i realised i got over my fear 😆 😆 😆


    i was terrified of birth, i knew obviously baby had to come out some way (the obvious way) but was terrified of the whole needle pain operation etc scenario didn’t help my friend telling me the truth of what;s invovled freaked me out even more, so i looked on line for inspiration and found hypnobirthing did the classes with tracy donegan, and was still a little afraid in my class i was the only one that couldn’t relax enough and thought great i’ll never do it i won’t be able to have a natural birth etc i was having a water birth…then in the end i was the only one who was able to do it..was a great experience bar the whole 3rd degree tear and ruptured bowel but hey i did it….then after that i had surgery (lol was like god’s way of saying now look who was being a smart ass afraid and wanted no pain etc, you got that but now you pay the price)….dealt with that then had to have c-section on the second one i was terrified all over again for another reason, the fear of being cut open and leaving my body in the hands of someone else not being in control and what if the dreaded thing happened died there and then never getting to be with my family, i remember having the conversation with people before hand wondering should i write a letter etc…sounds so silly now really silly but at the time it was the total fear of the unkown…a real fear, yeah i know people have babies everyday but like everything if you stop and think listen etc you start to panic that’s exactly what i did, i wanted the baby to grow inside me but to come out with no problems etc etc…

    i love kids i love babies i hated being pregnant, and i realise why now it’s cause of the fear of birth and the lack of control…

    sound stupid i know but the fear of birth is a fear…and can result in many ways afterwards in depression etc…so i can say that i will not have any more babies unless i can control my fear….or if i could have the birth that i had had on my first ds without the obvious tear etc i would have 50 kids


    I dont think thats its right to tell a pregnantmum the ins and outs of child birth and labour, thats not fair, but i think the build up to things can make them worse…. i had the same fear of a section, i my minds eyes i had a natural birth, healthy baby, very little pain and me looking fab and wonderfull to greet my visitors 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

    I would have to have a section if went again, this would be a turn off for me ie school runs and not being able to drive etc… if i too had have had that natural birth first time and no need for a 3rd section, i think i’d got again…..


    My sil has a fear of being pg, app.

    But then she also has a mysterious stomach complaint which means she doesn’t eat much and then usually when she does, throws it back up again.

    But i’m sure the two aren’t related…

    But it’s very sad…


    God, they gotta come out one way or another!

    Drugs is the only way to go IMHO – I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEED the gas’n’air! Deadly!

    My mum always said yeah, it kills you, the pain, but u forget about it straight after cos u have ur beautiful bundle of joy. I think she was tellin porkies.

    I was once told a section feels like someone doing the washing up in your tummy, is that so?

    I ALWAYS tell the grisly details, if thee conv with an expectant mum is going that way and she a realistic person, not a pregnant princess (whom i cannot abide, for the record). Who wants to only realise when u actually in labour that all the pressure and some attendant "excretions" are at the back, not the front?!??? Forewarned is forearmed! 😀 😀 😀


    My sil has a fear of being pg, app.

    But then she also has a mysterious stomach complaint which means she doesn’t eat much and then usually when she does, throws it back up again.

    But i’m sure the two aren’t related…

    But it’s very sad…

    ah god bless her…. yeah think there might be a link between the two…

    Oh the gas and air is brilliant…. i had a hold of my bottle and i was i’ve only 1/3 of a bottle left GET ME A NEW ONE!!!! 😳 😳 😳

    A section feel very strange, its just like both ends of your body are in two different worlds….. no feeling down below, you can feel your arms your lying there not moving, yet your getting wiggled and giggled about by this lower part of your body, the same lower part that feels missing and not there…. its a bit surreal!!! My ds got stuck and i was getting thrown about, i’d imagine its how a rag doll feels….

    I LOVED being pregnant………………………… and the getting there too 😉 ~(no fear of that) 😆 😆 😆
    i did read only last week about a girl who had a phobia of penis’s 😆 😆 😆 😆


    lololololololololo @ Taylor!!!!!! Keep practising just in case u wanna no 3!!!!


    mmm section didn’t like it really the whole being thrashed about and feeling them rooting inside ya and then pop there’s baby, i had had no contractions so felt empty when baby was out and when your belly feel like jelly afterwards and still think you feel kicks (but body still contracting) when you have a normal labour birth…so that was weird not feeling that, but i was surprised at how easy a section was and yeah the pain for the first few days and the effort to get out of bed and yeah then the whole waiting for the all clear to not depend on everyone else…

    i do however look at my scar and other scar and say well i have my marks to show this girl has done her bit for humanity…lol..would love to have more babies but eh no not gonna happen…but like taylor says the practicing is fun…lol


    im so glad i had sections now…. i got the "where do babys come from?" I just said "do you see that scar? yes, well you came out of there"…….. im so off the hook on that one 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆
    For all you natural birth moms get out of that one 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆


    Very easy to explain from a "natural birth" momma delivering no 2 at home – midwife comes to help you find the magic zip to let the baby out!! It v sore when baby trying to find it unaided and in the dark from the inside, and every mummy’s magic zip is in a different place so that’s why you need the expert’s (midwife’s) help!

    In fact, zip is so magic, secure and hidden, that you can’t even find it after the birth, hence have nothing to show them!!!

    LOL!! I know that all sounds boll*x to us all, but a 3 yo and now even later at 6 has no problem swallowing it!

    And yes I could be all anatomical and correct about it, but not yet. I remember having to be told about periods and sex and all that at age 7 cos I was bawling, incolnsolable about the prospect of not being able to wiah hard enough for a baby when i was a grown up. Too young I think, on reflection, even tho my mum, as a nurse, handled it just right in HOW and WHAT she told me.

    The longer the innocence the better IMHO…


    lol i was TERRIFIED of labour and childbirth so just didn’t think about it – did all my yoga etc but just refused to dwell on the idea it was happening to me if that makes sense. Despite a fear – to the extent of having to leave a table to be ill(much to dh’s amusement) while a "friend" told me about her baby moving and you could see elbow move I aboslutely LOVED being Pregnant and LOVED feeling my babies move.
    Ended up emergency section on dd1 – not nice infact couldn’t talk about it for a long long time recovery wasn’t too bad to be honest – first week was tough but i got plenty of gentle exercise and was out for stroll (very gentle) day after i came home. (friend of mine literally didn’t move for 6 weeks!) ON dd2 had a planned section and to be honest i was so friggin thrilled that i got through it that i was on the highest high of my life, was afriad i’d panic and end up under general anesthetic again and used my yoga breathing to keep calm couldn’t believe it when it was all over we were both fine and i was awake!!!!!!! i talked the whole time in recovery 😆 😆
    Liek you taylor don’t believe in telling pregnant women the whole gorey details – they’ll find out in time and i think i’d have only panicked even more
    good article btw

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