Extreme Fear of Childbirth Ups Risk of C-Section

childbirthAs someone who had an extreme fear of childbirth and who also had two C-sections, a new study out of Sweden linking the two caught my attention. Researchers there found that "fear of childbirth is a predisposing factor for emergency and elective cesarean sections." Yikes.

As I had preeclampsia that warranted my first C-section and live in Florida where VBACs are basically prohibited for my second, I can't say that mine were related to my fears. But I can understand how women fear the birth experience so much that it could alter their delivery. It's a very real and palpable fear, and it even has a technical name -- tocophobia. Researchers say even counseling often doesn't prevent the upped risk for C-section that comes along with it.


It's easy to say just relax, but it's not that easy. There are so many things that can go wrong during a pregnancy, and the mechanics of the whole delivery were enough to give me nightmares from the time I learned what those mechanics were. Graphic movies and television shows that paint a painful picture of birth didn't help.

Knowing the risks of a C-section, I would have never chosen one if it wasn't necessary, but if someone would have offered to put me completely under while I delivered vaginally at no risk to my baby, I would have gladly signed up to do just that. Of course, no one offered, and they refused when I asked. Yes, I would have regretted missing that moment when my children entered the world, but that fear was pretty powerful.

I admire women who go into childbirth ready to experience it all and even eschew any pain medications. They are definitely made of stronger stock than I am, but not everyone is, and hopefully in light of this new research about the very real consequences of such fears, we can begin to find a way to adequately address them.

Were you afraid of childbirth?

Image via nagobe/Flickr

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