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Episode Info: Anxiety in pregnancy is currently estimated to affect around 15% of women. Through my work in supporting women in preparing for birth and pregnancy, anxiety is something that I see a lot and, dare I say, I think the numbers are probably higher. When women are feeling fearful around aspects of their pregnancy or birth it can trigger feelings of anxiety, but these feelings are known to fluctuate through pregnancy. Anxiety in pregnancy has been shown to peak in both the first and the third trimester (1). How anxiety in pregnancy affects birth outcomes From the evidence available (2) we know that pregnancy anxiety not only affects pregnant women’s health but also has an impact on labour outcomes. Anxiety in pregnancy can affect the likelihood of things such as preterm delivery prolonged labour caesarean birth, low birth weight When you combine these potential outcomes with those that may arise as a result of fear, it’s clear that helping women to deal with fear and anxiety in pregnancy needs to be an important focus if we’re to improve birth outcomes for women. I’ve been supporting women in overcoming their fear for many years now, particularly those with tokophobia, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible success rates. Success rates that are apparently impossible. I was once told off on Twitter by a midwife specialising in tokophobia for suggesting that it’s possible to overcome tokophobia. “… [I] shouldn’t raise women’s hopes like that because they can’t. They just end up having c-sections.”. That may well be the case, but a positive c-section birth experience that is empowering for the woman is a world apart from the c-section that the woman dreads and feels anxious and terrified throughout. That’s when I realised that I needed to get some evidence behind my Fearless Birthing method. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to get birth professionals and healthcare providers to take my work seriously. And that in turn would limit the women able to benefit from the success I’m achieving reducing strong fears and anxieties. So, that’s what I set out to do. Collaborating with the University of Nottingham I joined forces with the University of Nottingham Psychology Department to explore the possibility of collaborating on a research project to evaluate my Fearless Birthing method. This is when I first met Dr. Megan Barnard. Dr. Barnard specialises in anxiety and so exploring anxiety in pregnancy was a good fit for her area of research. So we set out to design a study that would enable us to answer the question: can women reduce their anxieties and fears during pregnancy using a self-paced online programme? Can we reduce anxiety in pregnancy? After many iterations and submissions to the Ethics Board, we got the green light. So I’m delighted to say that there is currently a study underway which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fearless Birthing method in helping women to reduce their anxiety and fear during pregnancy. Given,...
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