Women are becoming increasingly terrified of giving birth – and frightening stories shared on social media may be playing a part, according to leading researchers.

Last week we shared how pregnant women sharing their ‘horror stories’ of labour and bloody depictions of childbirth on TV and film have ‘triggered’ a morbid fear of labour in some women, shares Daily Mail.

Even actress Helen Mirren has identified as a tocophobic – saying that watching a graphic video of a woman giving birth scared her so much she never wanted to be a mother.

Tocophobia is increasingly a problem, affecting up to 14 per cent of all pregnant women, according to research.

This is despite childbirth being safer than ever before – with just 0.01 per cent of mothers dying in or immediately after labour.

Katriona Jones, a senior research fellow and lecturer in maternal health at Hull University, was asked to investigate how best to treat women suffering from the condition by the local NHS perinatal mental health service team, to help understand why women were requesting Caesarean sections out of a ‘fear of childbirth’.

She told the British Science Festival in Hull that one of the factors fuelling the fear are websites such as Mumsnet and other social media, as well as TV depictions such as Call the Midwife.

She said: ‘It feels like there’s an element of it in social media. If you go online and go on any Mumsnet forums there are women telling stories of childbirth and it was terrible and it was a bloodbath. That can be quite frightening for women.’

This mum and many like her is exactly why women are scared…

Jessica Hood a soon-to-be mum of four, from Melbourne, has decided to give birth live on Instagram.

Jessica says she’s decided to broadcast her upcoming birth live to the world, mainly to raise awareness about mental health issues during pregnancy and motherhood, shares Yahoo.

Though she plans on keeping some aspects of the birth private, such as the actual pushing stage, Jessica says she hopes to share every other part of her labour and delivery.

A video of a home waterbirth without a midwife or doctor present has sparked major concerns for doctors. More on that here.

Here are a few more if you are not convinced -

Mum shares labour updates LIVE to Facebook

Mum delivers her six child in front of 1.4m viewers who watched her labour and birth online.

Mum shares video of her unassisted breech birth experience

Do you think too much oversharing is turning women against a natural birth?

Share your comments below

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  • Social media has a lot to answer for.


  • Absolutely. There are things you can’t unsee. It’s different to someone explaining their situation vs you physically watching it. I just don’t think it’s helpful or necessary. Choose not to watch though.


  • Nothing new under the sun !
    Personally I never felt the need to share my birth experiences with the world.


  • I was scared and will be again when I have another


  • All births are scary


  • Yes it scared me watching videos etc but nothing can prepare you no matter what birth you have it’s horrific


  • I found the more horror stories I read the more relaxed I was about giving birth naturally. I felt prepared for the absolute worst. In hindsight it really wasn’t that bad. At the time it was horrific but it could have been about 20 thousand times worse.


  • It probably does encourage a fear of natural birth but the fear was probably already there a bit too.


  • Fear inhibits labour. Fear creates pain. We are (as a general rule..) out of touch with nature and what our bodies and brains need to birth without fear! Our society has created a lot of fear of birth / pain through tv and movies, in addition to only hearing horror stories from other women. I for one had two amazing natural drug free births (even though I was induced both times for blood pressure / preeclampsia issues). Ladies do your research, look into hypnobirthing or calm birth classes.. birth can be totally amazing and empowering and transformative. I wish social media would normalise natural birth. You dont need to be afraid. Trust your bodies ladies!! No your baby isnt “too big”. You are amazing and your body is designed to birth. Trust this and throw away the fear!!
    As a side note – move your bodies during labor. Sway, sing, breathe!
    No one poops lying down and trying to birth lying down makes zero sense!


  • They reckon the more babies you have the shorter labour is likely to be. I know one Mum who had 4 babies. Each one she had the labour time was longer.


  • Yeah you really only hear the horror stories told as those are what catches people’s attention. This is where doctors need to step in and say no, C sections are serious, invasive surgery that should only be used when necessary not as a selective procedure. Women need to remember that our bodies are designed to give birth, unless there are complications let your body guide you. I’ve been one of the lucky mums to have had wonderful delivery experiences with minimal labour time.


  • The thing is, everyone is different. Pain thresholds are different and what happens during labour is always different. All 3 of mine were different, the last being the worst for me


  • I didn’t watch much movies or read many birth stories before I had my kids. I had the story of my mum who gave birth to 5 daughters all at home, all breastfed. i had the stories of my oldest sister who was a midwife and had 2 home births by my mum at home. I didn’t feel scared at all for giving birth, even though my first was delivered by emergency C-section, 10 weeks too early. I trusted the medical system and felt in good hands.
    Beautiful birth stories and sad ending birth stories have always been around, but it is natural and we shouldn’t “over-medicalise” it.


  • Of course childbirth is scary, but it’s also natural. Big difference these days is all the graphic content on social media. If you didn’t watch it or be a part of it, then a lot of your fears may be much less.


  • These stories have been around forever it’s just that we have more access to them nowdays. Birth the way you prefer.


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