‘Fear of childbirth’ and ways of coping for pregnant women and their partners during the birthing process: a salutogenic analysis
‘Tokophobia’ is defined as morbid fear of childbirth (Bhatia and Jhanjee, 2012), and this diagnosis has recently been endorsed within the UK as an indication for planned CS (NICE, 2011). This decision seems contrary to current trends within maternity services that focus on promoting normality in birth (Gould, 2012). However, there have been concerns for some time among midwives that the conceptualisation of fear of childbirth as a pathological process, situates the problem within the individual woman, and deflects attention from maternity care provision (Walsh, 2002).
All the women feared the pain of labour and were reassured by the availability of a 24-hour epidural service. Despite this, the majority of the women (65%) expressed hope that they could labour without an epidural, although they lacked confidence in their ability to cope and feared the pain would be too severe. Six of the primigravidas in this study (40%) had already been advised to have an epidural during labour by family or friends and all the men wanted their partner to have as much pain relief as possible during the birth: “She [her mother] said: ‘If you want my advice, you get an epidural as soon as you go into labour because you’ll never be able to cope.’ You see they all know me and know what I’m like” (W10, prim).
Four participants (11%) identified midwife support as a resource to help them cope with birth. These were two multiparous women and partners. Recalling previous births,
they described how the midwife had reduced their fears: “...from what I could see, the midwife had everything under control and like it seemed ok... so I was pretty relaxed” (M3, third baby).
Normal birth was still very alluring for most of the women in this study. It has been reported previously that women idealise normal birth while also rejecting it as dangerous (Maier, 2010). Most women in this study (89%) aspired to a normal birth but more than half (68%) feared they would not be capable of achieving it safely without medical intervention. Gould (2012) contends that this is a consequence of the language of risk that is used when offering birthing choices to women. This perception of riskiness reduces the comprehensibility dimension for women, and increases their need for resources to help manage birth.
|See the post 'Progressive Muscle Relaxation'.|
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