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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there such a thing as a fear of being pregnant?

    I suffer from anxiety/panic attacks. I'm relatively ok with them at them moment. I do have one thing on my mind. One day i want to start a family but I have a fear of being pregnant. I think what if I get pregnant and freak out and want the baby out (even though that would only be the fear talking). how can i deal with this better?
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  • 1


    Dr Gary Sykes


    Dr Gary Sykes is a graduate Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B, B.S.) from Sydney University. He commenced his initial postgraduate training at … View Profile

    Sorry to hear about your anxiety/panic attacks.
    I have had numerous patients over the years in pregnancy with a similar history and all has worked out ok, so don’t worry.
    I find that most women, to some extent, have a fear of being pregnant so don’t think you are alone.
    You need is to bring your doctor up to pace with your plans to have a baby. If you are on a medication it must suitable for pregnancy and at an optimal dose.
    When you are pregnant your pregnancy emotions can be compounded by negative input from other women talking about their own negative birth experiences (often with a little bit of embellishment), by advise from other women (which is often not founded in truth), by the media and by internet searches. Be sensitive to this.
    The positive emotions of being pregnant should out weigh any fear of wanting the baby out mid-pregnancy. I do 4D ultrasound scan each visits which patients find very reassuring. See if you can find an obstetrician who offers this service.
    I see pregnancy care being a lot about having a good relationship with my patients and caring. I tell a patient I want her to contact me personally if she has questions, concerns, others say something of concern, etc. I have made myself available to my patients through not only the phone but also through my website, email, messaging on Facebook and messaging on Twitter.
    You will want an obstetrician who is available, you are comfortable with, gives you the empathy and support you will need, will not rush you at appointments and who communicates well with you.
    You will need extra support in pregnancy so choose your obstetrician carefully.

    All the best

  • 2


    Dr Adaobi Udechuku is an Australian Perinatal Psychiatrist practising in Berwick, Malvern and Mount Waverley. She is Co-Founder and Director of GLOW Clinic and … View Profile


    In answer to you question, yes there is such a thing as a fear of being pregnant. There is a condition called Tokophobia which is a serious fear of pregnancy and childbirth which leads to avoidance of being pregnancy but this is quite rare and unlikely to be what you have.

    Most (up to almost 80%) of women have some anxiety about becoming and being pregnant and child birth so on a level it is normal.  Given your specific history of anxiety and panic attacks, your concerns are understandable but with the right help, I believe that you will be able to manage.

    So what can you do?

    A/ It is good that your anxiety/panic attacks are under control at the moment.  I would first recommend continuing to do what has got you well - psychological techniques, medication...

    B/ I would also suggest speaking to your GP first and seeking an appointment with an experienced Obsterician he or she should be able to discuss the options available to you to have a safe pregnancy.  His or her reassurance may be all that you need.

    C/ If you still continue to worry then I would also seek a referral to a perinatal psychologist or psychiatrist (both will have specific expertise with pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postnatal mental health).  They can assess if you have Tokophobia.

    They can also help you understand your anxiety about your pregnancy ( what are your specific concerns, what are their origins and what to do about them) , provide you with psychological strategies to counter your concerns, review your medication (if you are on it) and consider what to do with your medication prior and during a pregnancy.  They can also and support you through your pregnancy.   

    D/ Some strategies that may help include:

    1. Ensuring that you have a healthy diet, no to minimal caffiene and limit refined sugar

    2. Regualr Exercise

    3. Relaxation - breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, guided

    2. Identifying and challenging you automatic thoughts about pregnancy to reduce how anxious they make you eg "I will freak out and want the baby out"

    3. Mindfulness mediation there are some great Apps a good one for pregnancy and beyond is Mind the Bump or non pregnant Smilling Mind

    4. other mind-body activities like yoga or tai chi can be very helpful for anxiety and worry

    5. Using your support network - Involving your partner or husband is important -Maintaining social connections with friends is too

    6. Good website include beyondblue, Center for Clinical Interventions (CCI) (which has specific worksheets on anxiety and panic for consumers), PANDA

    I hope that this is helpful.

    Good luck and all the best.

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