TOCOPHOBIA is the term that refers to the morbid fear of childbirth. Some women are afraid of pregnancy as well as the birthing process, to the extent that they avoid having kids altogether, or opt for adoption and fostering. Here are some tips on how to overcome this fear…
*Start your antenatal care before you get pregnant. Yes! You read that right. Preconceptional care is just as important as antenatal care. In fact, premarital counselling should also include some information about coping with pregnancy, childbirth and indeed, parenting. This will ensure that young women do not approach pregnancy with so much ignorance and apprehension.
*Talk to your midwife/doctor about available options of pain relief in labour. The main cause of fear for most first time mums is labour pain. It can be refreshing to know that there are several options; from non-pharmacological methods like breathing exercises, to sophisticated methods like epidural.
*Be active throughout pregnancy. Exercise makes you feel good and healthy. It also gives you a sense of control. The stress of pregnancy might tempt you to just lie down there all day. But trust me, inactivity will only make you more anxious and sickly.
*Surround yourself with positive people. Talk to veteran mothers and learn from their experiences. Don’t be carried away with what everyone says because people’s experiences and opinions differ greatly.
*Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor/midwife when you see any flag sign (such as unusual abdominal pain, bleeding, decreased fetal movement, swelling of the feet and hands or excessive weight gain etc.)
*Unless contraindicated, have sex please! It may feel awkward and uncomfortable, but with effective communication and proper posturing, regular marital intimacy is a good way to boost your mood and train your body to accept the pregnancy as just a physiological process rather than a disease.
*Of course, the importance of having a supportive husband all through the period of pregnancy and childbirth cannot be overemphasized. His physical presence and emotional support can be reassuring and empowering.
*Talk to a mental health professional. The fear of childbirth can be so distressing, just like any other type of phobia. It may also be an aftermath of a traumatic experience from past pregnancy or labour. You may wish to talk to a psychotherapist to identify the cause of your fears and help you to resolve these fears.