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13th Sep 2018

‘Tsunami’ of negative birthing stories on social media creating a fear of childbirth, claims expert

'They generate a level of anxiety among women.'

Anna O'Rourke

Be honest; did you Google birth stories while you were pregnant?

It’s only natural that expectant mums would be curious about what to expect when the time comes to bring baby into the world.

In the past, this might have meant asking your own mum or friend about their experiences but the digital age and social media means that women have access to thousands of other people’s stories.

You don’t have to look too far online to find some pretty grim real-life accounts of labour and deliveries and one expert is now warning that such stories are contributing to rising tocophobia – the fear of giving birth.

Social media 'horror stories' creating a fear of childbirth, claims expert

Parenting forums like Mumsnet, as well as social networks like Facebook, contain a “tsunami” of negative birthing stories that put the fear of God into pregnant women according to Catriona Jones, senior research fellow at the University of Hull.

“If you go into Mumsnet forums, women are telling stories about childbirth — ‘it’s terrible, it’s a bloodbath’,” she told the British Science Festival this week.

“I think that can be difficult to deal with.

“They generate a level of anxiety among women, particularly if they’re reading stories like this when they’re already pregnant.”

The comments have been criticised by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which told The Independent that such views “dismissed and minimised” women’s experiences of giving birth.