Friday 23 August 2019

One in three women fear giving birth

A pregnant woman (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A pregnant woman (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Lynne Kelleher

Over a third of Irish women have a fear of childbirth - while one in 20 have a severe phobia of going into labour.

Dr Maeve O'Connell said she had discovered around 5pc of Irish women have a phobia or severe fear of childbirth known as tocophobia.

The research midwife, who has carried out a number of studies on the condition, believes there needs to be more school and antenatal education around childbirth.

"Not every woman has a true phobia. About 5pc of women have a severe fear of childbirth, characterised by avoidance behaviour, flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks. It would affect their day-to-day lives," she said.

Dr O'Connell, who is currently lecturing in Bahrain, said a recent study she carried out in Cork found the same prevalence of tocophobia as the international rate of 5pc.

"But what I found in Cork was a third of women had a high fear of childbirth which wouldn't necessarily affect their everyday lives while internationally in places like Australia it is about a quarter, so it's a bit higher in [Ireland].

"That doesn't include women who never got pregnant because of the fear which was so strong."

The lecturer in midwifery said there had been a long history of "shameful practices" in Ireland.

"We're emerging from a period of Catholic control in the country. We do have a history of committing atrocities to women in obstetrics," she said.

Women affected by the condition can contact the charity Nurture on

Sunday Independent

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