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  • Writer's pictureDoula Tracy


Updated: Mar 2, 2022

How are you feeling?

Worries and fears in pregnancy are experienced by up to 80% of pregnant women. So, feeling anxious and worried is very common and quite normal.

Some women have an extreme fear of becoming pregnant or giving birth. The fear is so impactful, they can avoid getting pregnant. This is called Tokophobia.

Tokophobia is a specialist topic, and one that needs full attention, so I will not be discussing it here.

In today's society, women go off to hospital or a birthing unit to have their babies, and then come home with their new-born, and are expected to get on with being parents.

Unlike the 1960's, when 35% of births took place at home, today, only up to 4% of babies are born at home.


In the 1970's, Obstetricians had the view that hospital was safer to give birth, which drove the home birth rate down to near 1%. Since the 1990's, there has been a shift back to home births but progress is slow.

A consequence is that women, and their partners, simply do not see real births anymore.

Birth is viewed on TV and in films, the birthing woman on her back, in a hospital bed, legs in stirrups, sweating profusely, screaming and writhing around. No wonder women are scared!!!

Even true life dramas focus on the dramatic side of births, where medical intervention is used in one form or another.

Social media can also fuel this fear. Women love to talk about their birth experiences, and fortunately there are some wonderful posts sharing positive birth stories. But, there is an awful lot of negativity around birth portrayed too.


Maternity care givers are adept in using language that can increase fear and worry.

Terms like, 'high risk pregnancy', 'you are double the risk of...', 'failure to progress', etc can all increase a pregnant woman's concern.

What happens if you are scared?

Fear triggers the release of stress hormones, adrenaline, cortisol and others. The result can be labour slowing down, because blood is drawn away from the uterus and directed to the vital organs, such as the heart and brain. This can also impact the baby as baby receives less oxygen when this happens.

Only in the later stage of labour is adrenaline useful, as baby is about to be born.

How to reduce fear.

During pregnancy, labour and birth, women need to feel SAFE, RESPECTED, CARED FOR, and be able to be active. Discomfort needs to be managed.

If a woman feels embarrassed, unsafe, disrespected, unheard, insignificant or watched, her fear can increase and labour can slow or stall.

When you conceive, start to become informed. Take hold of any fear , acknowledge it and become educated.

Enrol in child birth classes, such as Hypnobirthing. (I recommend @kgh hypnobirthing.)

Hire a Doula, for continuity of care throughout your pregnancy and birth, (and postnatal period if you wish.)

Before birth, plan your comfort measures. What can you listen to? What scents do you like?

Practice visualisations, read affirmations, have aromatherapy or a massage.


"Fear is the key to oppression and control." (Milli Hill.)

Fear drives a woman to become passive about her birth experience, to do what she is told, which can lead to an unpleasant and disappointing experience.


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