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Seen At 11: Study Finds 30 Percent Of Women Suffer From Fear Of Childbirth

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new study reveals there are many women who suffer from a serious phobia about giving birth.

As CBS2's Kristine Johnson reported, University of Michigan researcher Lee Roosevelt found as many as 30 percent of women suffer from a fear of childbirth, and that it can be so significant that it impacts their daily lives.

"Women who have this high level of anxiety are more likely to have emergency C-sections, have post-partum depression," Roosevelt said.

Roosevelt, who is also a midwife, said when it comes to the care of expectant mothers, the tremendous focus on risk may be contributing to this problem.

"We treat them as sort of ticking time bombs," Roosevelt said.

Rona Kwestel suffered from this phobia.

"Tocos is childbirth, so tocophobia is a fear of childbirth," said reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Shari Lusskin.

Kwestel said her excitement over having a baby was soon replaced by fear over having to give birth.

"This gripping, tightening sensation, that just makes you feel like you're being strangled around your torso," she said. "It's hard to explain."

Lusskin said there are varying degrees of tocophobia. Some women recognize it at a very young age and go to great lengths to avoid getting pregnant. Others, she said, may not suffer symptoms until becoming pregnant, and are so fearful, they choose to have an abortion rather than go through the delivery process.

This can even happen with somebody who's worked very hard to become pregnant using IVF," Lusskin said.

Kwestel gave birth to a baby boy, who's now a teenager, but even now, just talking about the birth can bring back some of her anxiety.

"It worked out but…I think it was the anticipation and the not knowing," Kwestel said. "That seemed scary."

Lusskin said the fear of not being in control is common with tocophobia, but early intervention can help women regain some of that control, which can reduce anxiety leading to healthier, happier pregnancies.

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