What if that simple phrase was masking a deep-rooted fear of all things involved with pregnancy and childbirth? Tokophobia is a severe fear of childbirth and/or pregnancy.
This was the case for Clare Watson, founder of Nutrition and Nurture. While growing up Clare never thought about having her own family. Putting it down to a lack of maternal instinct, children were far from her mind.“I didn't like babies at all,” said Clare, “I felt really uncomfortable if I was near them and seeing a baby feed made me faintly nauseous.”
Having convinced herself that she was most likely unable to conceive or carry a child to term anyway, Clare carried on with her life, achieved a successful career as a maths teacher and met the love of her life. Then Clare fell pregnant, “I was completely, unspeakably, terrified. I didn’t know how to cope with the news. Secretly though, part of me, maybe, actually wanted to be pregnant. I was with someone I loved deeply and who would make an amazing father and I felt sad denying him that, simply because of my fear.”
"I feel my experiences have given me a real empathy for people struggling to adjust to parenthood or dealing with anxiety issues."
Clare Watson - Founder, Nutrition and Nurture
What followed was a painful journey to acknowledge and accept Clare’s real fear and coming to terms with the extent of her Tokophobia. “Over the next few months I had an unbelievable level of support and help. I had CBT counselling, one to one sessions with a special midwife, contact with the vulnerable women's team, hypnobirthing sessions and hypnotherapy.” Said Clare. Following the birth, breastfeeding generated a whole new emotional response for Clare, “my initial reaction was that no way would I be able to do that". Learning about the ways that nursing could help with bonding and post natal depression as well as the enormous physical and psychological benefits for both of them encouraged her to give it a go.
Since the birth of her son Clare has worked helping new mothers to bond and feed their babies effectively. “I trained to be a volunteer peer supporter through Cherubs and went on to work as an Infant Feeding Community Support Worker at Leighton Hospital. “I am now running my own business offering antenatal education and breastfeeding support. I feel my experiences have given me a real empathy for people struggling to adjust to parenthood or dealing with anxiety issues. It is ironic that I now spend all my time around or thinking about pregnancy, birth and babies!”
If you would like help to prepare for the imminent arrival of your child, to learn about breastfeeding and how to give yourself the best start or need support postpartum with nurturing your new baby, Nutrition and Nurture can help. Courses and support are available in group settings, one to one or online. If you have any questions or to share your story you can find Clare on Facebook @nutritionandnurturecooperative
Visit https://www.nutritionandnurture.co.uk/ for further information on evidence based support and training.
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