Call to help with the dread of childbirth

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More needs to be done to help women who have a morbid dread of childbirth, an expert has said.

Between six and 10 per cent of women suffer from tocophobia – an intense anxiety or fear of pregnancy or giving birth, midwife counsellor Zara Chamberlain said at the Royal College of Midwives annual conference in Brighton.

Some women are so fearful they see maternity wards as torture chambers, she said.

Ms Chamberlain, who works at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Chertsey, Surrey, said that women often have no one to turn to and that there should be an expert in the field at each hospital to support women throughout pregnancy.

There also needs to be more awareness in the health profession about the phobia, she said.

“I am amazed how many midwives have not heard of tocophobia,” she said. “If you don’t know about it, you can’t help with it.”

She said that some women who suffer from the condition avoid childbirth altogether and use multiple forms of contraception simultaneously – even if they are desperate to have children.