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11% of Men are Afraid of Childbirth

September 2, 2011

11% of Men Are Afraid of Childbirth by Phillip White

Not Tacophobia

I recently read a study done by doctoral student Malin Bergström in Sweden that revealed  11% of men were afraid of childbirth, and that there was an association of that fear with higher rates of cesarean section.  Fear of childbirth is called tocophobia.  Most men will laugh at this term and think it has something to do with disliking cheap Mexican food.  Not TACO, tooooco!

More amazing in the research study was the fact that 1 out of 3 men with tocophobia had a partner with the same condition.  When the couple has the condition, it’s like two people who both can’t swim.  Somebody is going to drown or both.  The study shows that these men also had a higher level of general anxiety during their partners’ pregnancy, and lower self-confidence about becoming good parents.  This unnatural fear does not set couples up for good outcomes.

The doctoral thesis described that although psychoprophylaxis generally has no effect on the experience of childbirth for women or men, its actual use during delivery seems to reduce the risk of emergency C-section.  Psychoprophylaxis means a type of psychotherapy that is directed to prevention of emotional disorders. It is about a breathing and focusing method that is to help a woman in the preparation for childbirth to reduce her anxiety.    A Dr. Chertok writes:  “The most widely used drugless method of obstetrical analgesiais the psychoprophylactic method (PPM) described by Velvovski (Russian founder of this method in the 1940s). The new method is based upon instructionin anatomy and physiology, and training in techniques of relaxation,breathing and active participation during labour, all in a goodemotional climate.”

“Psychoprophylaxis is still currently an incredibly popular part of parental training,” the researcher says. “However, our research has shown that it is of no benefit to the vast majority of expectant parents.” Lamaze (Dr. Lamaze visited Russia and observed the psycholprophylaxis method Dr. Velvovski had developed: see history)  is one of the most popular childbirth education programs that uses these techniques.  Unfortunately, that means that unless people are afraid of childbirth psychoprophylaxis-type methods may be less beneficial.

I think this article clearly shows how men who are afraid of childbirth really should be involved in a program that uses these techniques.  Lamaze is extremely popular in the United States.  The writer states “Through a programme of structured drills and counselling, they learn what the woman needs during labour and how the men can help. They seem to feel more prepared for the delivery process and this presumably alleviates their fear and anxiety.””

The only problem I see in knowing this is getting the guys to admit to their fears.  There is so much coercion happening between men and their partners that most guys are not going to readily admit to being fearful.  They don’t want to lose the respect of their mates, and they may cover up how they actually feel.  Seems like a paradox.

I guess the focus we need to teach women and men is not to be afraid to tell us that they are afraid.  Teaching people that childbirth is essentially a life-threatening and dangerous situation has been promoted by doctors since the 1920s.   So it is understandable that men with tocophobia may exist in today’s society, and that psychoprophylaxis-style childbirth education is ideal for them.  What do you think?

Guys who are afraid may need behavioral conditioning to alleviate their fears, but first they need to admit they have those fears, and discuss that with their partner; otherwise, they will not be stable at the childbirth.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2012 7:43 am

    Really enjoy this post. There is not much information about “fear” in men. Dads are supposed to be “strong”, right? But they have feelings and fears as well. Good to read someone else saying it.


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