The mumspring guide to dealing with Tokophobia: an extreme fear of childbirth

Part one of this post was aimed at giving you an overview of what Tokophobia is, what causes it, and how it affects pregnant women. If you missed it, read it here

In this part, we’ll be sharing practical steps on how to overcome those delivery fears

Talk it out

Do not be afraid to ask questions and talk about what is bothering you. Speak with someone—a partner, friend, doctor, doula or therapist about your feelings as soon as something comes up, no matter how insignificant you think it might be. Ideally, this should be someone with experience of childbirth fears. They will advise you on how to cope with the feelings of fear and any other symptoms you may have.

Face your fears

Although this might prove stressful, its also quite beneficial. You can start by learning about the exact triggers of your anxiety and how people can help you manage them. Try using a journal to articulate your thoughts. 

Pro tip: Ask any new medical staff to read this explanation before dealing with you. 

Get more familiar with and confident in hospital environments 

This may involve a lot of phone calls to your midwife and active visits but implementing these strategies means that by the time you go into labour, although still nervous, you will feel much more in control of the care you would receive.

Pro Tip: Before exposing yourself to any potentially ‘high risk’ situation (for example, a tour of the delivery suite, prenatal pilates class, visiting a friend with a newborn etc.), contact relevant people in advance to explain your situation and triggers.

Fill your toolbox

If pain is your big fear, then make sure you know what options are available in terms of pain management but more importantly about every step of the process. When you know in detail, what to expect at each point and you have tools at hand, you will be confident about the process. Start training your brain to think of contractions as sensations that will help you deliver your baby, and learn how to breathe and relax into them instead of fighting them. You can even take an online course on labour and birth with your partner!

Clan Up

Don’t isolate yourself, connect with a community of pregnant women dealing with the same things as you. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

With mumspring care, you can connect with mums-to-be just like you. Receive support, learn from their experiences in the birth clusters and pray about your fears together in the prayer room.  

Break it down

While it is a good idea to prepare, try not to focus all of your energy on thoughts about the delivery. When you talk to families, split everything up: what happens before you go into labour, during labour and then everything that happens after. If you compartmentalize the experience, you can deal with each section instead of looking at birth as one huge monster.

Have Tricks Up Your Sleeve

Learn several effective techniques to manage pain during childbirth, such as self-hypnosis, labour position changes, heat pack application, and different breathing methods. Knowing that effective means of pain relief are available can help lessen your anxiety. Talk with your doctor beforehand about medication and other options and include your intentions in your birth plan.

Request a planned caesarean section

A Caesarean section is neither the last resort nor a sign of defeat. If you feel like your treatment isn’t working, talk to your midwife or doctor about having a planned caesarean section. They will discuss the risks and benefits of having a caesarean compared to vaginal birth. And if an obstetrician is unwilling to perform a caesarean section, you should be referred to one who will.

If you have questions, avoid googling or reading forums

They are an anxiety-inducing minefield! Speak to your midwife or ask some understanding friends who have had children. And if you don’t feel taken seriously by your midwife or consultant, request (and fight if necessary!) to change to a different one

Mama,Tokophobia can be a lot less debilitating if you have a strong support system, including partners, mothers, sisters or friends and colleagues.

So lean in strongly on your support system, listen to stories of mums who have overcome it, take it one day at a time, focus on what’s happening inside you, practise your affirmations and immerse yourself in positive birth stories till you say goodbye to all the fears and wave ”hello” to the excitement that’s in the moment!

You’ve got this!


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