If you would like to learn about the consequences of fear of childbirth, read Tokophobia and its Possible Consequences (in french only).
When a woman decides to go through with conceiving a baby, despite her intense fear of pregnancy or childbirth, its vital to start the process by getting appropriate psychological help. This can help reduce the anguish or panic of the idea of having a baby. A psychologist, social worker, someone who will listen to her and work with her through her personal learning process. Systemic desensitisation or cognitive-behavioural therapies can also be helpful, as are hypnosis therapy sessions.
The, to lessen the possible impact of the fear of childbirth on a future pregnancy, the woman needs to be surrounded by love and understanding from her support network. By being present, it can calm her during her stages of becoming a mother through listening, reassurance and protection.
It’s also a good idea to practice relaxation methods before the pregnancy, such as meditation, massage, yoga, deep breathing. Learning to relax muscle structures and connect with her inner being to calm herself both physically and psychologically.
A woman who has uncontrollable fears about pregnancy or childbirth and who finds herself pregnancy requires special monitoring. If she decides to continue with the pregnancy, the doctor or midwife may request support from a multidisciplinary team. They could meet the needs of a person living with tokophobia.
Prenatal classes can undoubtedly help demystify true from false information. They can help make the experience more concrete, providing information that will allow her to take part in future decisions for her and the baby. Knowledge is power, enables exchanges and understanding, but pregnancy is always a box of chocolates, you never know how it will end until it’s over.
A birth plan (childbirth wishes) can also be used as a way to reassure these women. Their wishes about the childbirth event should then be given to the staff on-site.
The presence of a doula, who was met several times during pregnancy, can be beneficial for a woman living with tokophobia. It can provide her with a familiar face, sustain presence by a known person at her bedside to help not only her but her partner during this stressful period.
During Labour and Childbirth:
A woman who lives with an intense fear of giving birth needs to be supported throughout labour and even more so during delivery. A doula? Nurse? Midwife? Doctor?
The people present need to know the situation and adapt their actions to meet the woman’s need for reassurance better. This also applies to the partner, who may be stressed about their role.
Considering the potential risks during the postnatal period, it’s essential that the woman and family be monitored by health professionals. If there are issues, they will then act or refer for more specific assistance.
Tokophobia is more and more recognised as a health problem, and it is considered important by professionals. There is an increasing number of specialised help programs for women who live with this kind of fear.
You are the only one to know how you feel about carrying and then bringing a baby into the world. If this makes you stressed, you may need to talk to your doctor or another health professional to get appropriate help and support. Don’t wait for the pregnancy to start and your stress peak.
All the best, and talk soon,
The Baby Expert