Are Social Media Sites Fuelling Tocophobia?
A senior lecturer and researcher in midwifery has blamed social media sites such as Facebook and Mumsnet for contributing to the rise of tocophobia: a fear of childbirth. Speaking at the British Science Festival last week, Catriona Jones claimed that “a tsunami of negative birthing stories” online are exacerbating fears of labour, and that this has caused a surge in the rates of healthy women asking for Caesareans.
First of all, Caesareans rock and so I don’t actually see the problem with that. Yes, they cost more and it’s major surgery blah blah blah blaahhhh, but I would take a sunroof delivery over a front door one any day.
And secondly, I know I’m not an expert in the fields of Midwifery or Obstetrics but Catriona is missing the point entirely. Instead of blaming Mumsnet and its users for putting the fear of God into pregnant women, why doesn’t she try and find out why women are having such horrific experiences which they feel the need to plaster all over online forums in the first place?
Dismissing women who have been traumatised by their labours is precisely the reason many feel that they do not have enough support from official channels. If a senior midwife is getting her knickers in a twist about women sharing their horror stories, it’s no wonder we turn to social media forums for support and some form of catharsis.
Childbirth can be a beautiful and magical experience. But it can also be the most awful, undignified and distressing ordeal. Why can’t we just be honest about that? I only developed tocophobia after I’d given birth to my first baby - it is a very real phobia and the consultant and counsellor I saw during my second pregnancy could see that a Caesarean was going to be the best the option for me. Had the hospital provided me with better care first time round, I might not have been so high maintenance second time round.
Women must be as informed as possible so that they can hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Blaming social media sites instead of what’s actually happening on labour wards across the country is very short-sighted.
PS Sorry but look at that sweet baby I can hardly cope my ovaries are going to explode