The phobia paralysing pregnant women
FEAR of childbirth is so intense in almost one in 10 women that they struggle to live, new research reveals.
A lack of continuity of midwifery care in some of the state's less affluent areas is feeding this paralysing anxiety.
Seeing the same midwife during pregnancy and at birth is known to reduce the risk of tokophobia (fear of giving birth), but less than eight per cent of women have access to this relationship-based care.
The findings from new research highlight that women in poorer Queensland locations are less likely to access care by a known midwife from local maternity services.
"We found women who attend the Gold Coast University Hospital for pregnancy care were more likely to receive continuity of midwifery care than women from Logan, which is an area of higher socio-economic disadvantage," said co-author Professor Jenny Gamble, Head of Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University.
The study highlighted the need for improved maternity services in poorer areas and it was expected that the new Logan Maternity and Child Health Hubs would
address the need in this area, Prof Gamble said.
The hubs are designed to deliver maternity care in a community setting for women who give birth at Logan Hospital.
"Women's groups in higher socio-economic areas are likely to have lobbied for their birth centres or rallied to keep them open. Less well-off women struggling with the day-to-day are less able to assert their health rights in this way," Prof Gamble said.
Education level in women was found to be a significant predictor of continuity of midwifery care in their area.
One in five woman suffer from tokophobia but it becomes critical in one in 10.
"Given the known positive outcomes of continuity of midwifery care for women fearful of birth, health policy makers need to provide equity in access to evidence-based models of midwifery care," she said.
Brisbane woman Susann Kovacs is 36 weeks pregnant with her first child and is being cared for at the Midwifery Group Practice at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
"I can honestly see the benefits of getting to know midwives and building up a relationship," she said.
"I love the model of care. I feel comfortable and safe and think it would definitely ease the anxiety in women who are fearful."
Primary tokophobia - never had a baby
Secondary tokophobia - likely had a traumatic birth
Fear over interventions, managing pain and the unknown
Some women choose to avoid pregnancy or have an abortion
Can cause longer labours and lead to C-sections
Can cause increased use of epidural and forceps
Women may struggle to bond with baby
Peri-natal mental health services can help with this condition