A new study published in the international journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica (AOGS) reveals that fear of childbirth is a predisposing factor for emergency and elective cesarean sections, even after psychological counseling. This may mean a negative experience that lasts a lifetime among the approximately 3% of women who in this study were estimated to suffer from excessive fear of childbirth.
Led by Professor Gunilla Sydsjo of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Hospital in Linköping, Central Sweden, researchers analyzed the antenatal and delivery records of 353 women who were referred to a unit for psychosocial obstetrics and gynecology because of fear of childbirth, and 579 women without fear of childbirth.
The researchers found that fear of childbirth affected obstetric outcomes and increased the frequency of emergency and elective cesarean sections.
Induction of delivery was more common among the women with fear of childbirth (16.5%) as compared to the women without this problem (9.6%). Women with fear of childbirth who were scheduled for vaginal delivery were more often delivered by emergency cesareans and they also more often requested elective cesarean delivery.
Is Fear Of Childbirth Really A Disorder?
Is Fear Of Childbirth Really A Disorder? Some women apparently suffer from “tocophobia” or an “unrelenting fear of childbirth.” But is this really that irrational?
ABC’s Susan Donaldson James says, “At its worst, tocophobia can be so profound that some women, even those who yearn for children, choose not to get pregnant.” For instance, 23-year-old Karen DuVall says when the time comes, she’d rather adopt. She tells ABC:
The more I learned about childbirth, the more afraid of it I’ve actually become. I’m afraid of my body being ruined. I’m afraid of having an aneurysm and dying. I’m even afraid that when I get married, my husband won’t be attracted to me anymore after giving birth. I’m afraid that I just won’t be me anymore.
“Maximal effort is necessary to avoid traumatizing deliveries, ensure early recognition of women with traumatic birth experiences, and provide psychological treatment for fear of childbirth,” Sydsjo concludes.
Tocophobia: an uncontrollable fear of childbirth
Although most women dread the pain of childbirth, those suffering from tocophobia fear it to such an extent that they may even avoid becoming pregnant or have an abortion in spite of really wanting to have a child.
Some English psychiatrists are now lifting the covers off this strange and largely unknown illness, known as tocophobia. There are many possible explanations for this sometimes-uncontrollable fear of childbirth, which continues, particularly in the Western world, despite medical progress and birth complications being more and more uncommon. Tocophobia can be caused by a fear of pain, a tendency to worry a lot, depression, previous obstetric trauma and even sexual trauma.
Contact: Amy Molnar