Maieusiophobia (Fear of Childbirth)
Maieusiophobia is the irrational fear of childbirth. Someone experiencing this disorder may find it extremely difficult to merely think of childbirth. They may endure intense bouts of anxiety as a result of their maieusiophobia. In some extreme cases, they may even need to be hospitalized if they happen to experience an intense enough panic attack. Though this may not be a typical symptom of maieusiophobia, it is still very plausible to occur.
Someone with this disorder may not only feel intense anxiety at the mere thought of them becoming pregnant, but they may also feel very intrusive anxiety when looking at another woman who is pregnant. The mere sight of another pregnant woman can bring forth analogous anxiety to that of them thinking of themselves being pregnant.
Their maieusiophobia may not even include fearing the months of pregnancy. It may only include the actual fear of birthing a child. This may be a bittersweet experience for many women as it is a natural, beautiful experience as new human enters into the planet, while there is also much pain and risk involved with it. Doctors must make sure that the baby is birthed in a certain position, they must make sure that the mother is ready psychologically and physically to birth the baby, etc.
Many women have died throughout humanity giving birth to their child and vice versa. This may have ingrained a sort of subconscious fear of childbirth that still provokes fear in women today. However, maieusiophobia is not exclusive to only women. Men can also develop maieusiophobia due to the mere fact that this condition is a mental disorder that is likely based in genetics and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Maieusiophobia
The main symptom that someone with maieusiophobia can expect to experience is intense anxiety. They may find themselves spending a great deal of their day worrying about childbirth even when they are not pregnant themselves. The may even become overly concerned with becoming pregnant by taking irrational measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen. However, this will vary from person to person.
Someone with maieusiophobia may have anxiety that is so intrusive that they may find it very difficult for them to develop romantic relationships with others due to their fear of becoming pregnant. It may not be the fear of becoming pregnant that they are concerned with, but it may merely be the the act of childbirth that gives them the most anxiety.
Though not everyone is ready to raise a child, someone with maieusiophobia will have reasons that are greatly out of touch with reality. So, it should be noted here that someone who simply withholds the disposition that they would like to not have kids or that they find childbirth to be unappealing does not mean that they have maieusiophobia as this is a mental disorder.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of maieusiophobia:
Intense anxiety at the mere thought of childbirth
Intense anxiety when seeing a child being born
Anxiety when seeing pregnant women
Unable to cope with strong emotions
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
Causes of Maieusiophobia
There is no known cause of maieusiophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders, may have a higher chance of developing maieusiophobia due to the fact that they may then have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness.
However, keep in mind that just because someone has a family history of mental illness, this does not therefore prove that they also have a genetic predisposition for developing mental illness. It merely increases your risk for having such a genetic predisposition.
If someone were to have the proper genetic makeup to develop mental illness, it may then only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown maieusiophobia. Though what one person deems to be traumatic may not be intrusive at all to someone else, if they perceive the event to be traumatic enough then they may develop maieusiophobia insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so.
It is also plausible to conceive that someone may develop this disorder if they already are suffering from an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), among other disorders. For instance, someone who has GAD may already be a very anxious person on a daily basis. So, it may only take a traumatic event of some sort for them to concentrate a great deal of their anxiety toward childbirth.
Maieusiophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no known treatment specifically designed for maieusiophobia. However, exposure therapy may be quite beneficial. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over time. The goal is to try and desensitize the patient from their fear by repetitively exposing them to their fear.
In context to maieusiophobia, the therapist may expose the patient to childbirth by showing them pictures of a woman giving birth or videos of a woman giving birth. Though these things may give the patient extreme amounts of anxiety, theoretically, the more they are exposed to these images the less of a fearful effect it will have on them. So, there is an underlying desensitization effect at work here that will likely not be noticeable to the patient during the first handful of sessions.
Besides engaging in exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication may also be very advantageous for the patient. However, it is important to note that merely taking medication alone may not be enough for them to truly improve their maieusiophobia in the long run due to the fact that medication will not teach them the skills needed to cope with strong emotions, nor will it help them to desensitize themselves from their fear. This must be done in therapy.
If you think you may have maieusiophobia of if you have some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated.
Psychiatric Medications for Maieusiophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe maieusiophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their maieusiophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as maieusiophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of maieusiophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of maieusiophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Maieusiophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from maieusiophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with maieusiophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of maieusiophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Maieusiophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from maieusiophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from maieusiophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with maieusiophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of maieusiophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with maieusiophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Maieusiophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as maieusiophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with maieusiophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with maieusiophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their maieusiophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with maieusiophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Yoga for Maieusiophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from maieusiophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with maieusiophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with maieusiophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with maieusiophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of maieusiophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Maieusiophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including maieusiophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of maieusiophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of maieusiophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with maieusiophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Maieusiophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with maieusiophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with maieusiophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Maieusiophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like maieusiophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with maieusiophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with maieusiophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with maieusiophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your maieusiophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Maieusiophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with maieusiophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with maieusiophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with maieusiophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with maieusiophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.