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Fear of Birth (FOB)

We are a specialist outpatient clinic which helps birthing people with severe fear of birth.

A fear of birth may be present before pregnancy and birth (known as ‘primary tokophobia’) or because of a previous traumatic experience of pregnancy, birth, or loss (known as ‘secondary tokophobia’).

Your fear may be associated to a specific experience or cultural issue, such as:

  • Medical phobias, medical or sexual trauma, or psychosexual difficulties such as vaginismus
  • Expectations from cultural, familial, or societal narratives about childbearing that trigger debilitating fear about safety and harm towards yourself or your baby
  • A previous traumatic experience like a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or difficulties with fertility

We’re a team of Psychologists, Cognitive Behavioural (CBT) Therapists, and support staff with experience in working with people with a Fear of Birth. We all work together to provide the best service we can and strive to provide the right care for you.

If you meet the referral criteria, we may offer the following treatment options.

Assessment and formulation

You will be invited to an assessment with a psychologist to talk about your experience and how your fears of birth affects your life. Due to the link between fear of birth and previous traumatic birth experiences, we are able to assess for PTSD to birth trauma where appropriate and discuss options for psychological support. 

Psychoeducation and intervention

We explore your concerns about birth and adjustment to pregnancy and parenthood. Where appropriate we work with health professionals involved in your care if necessary, and can support you with interventions focused on anxieties around birth. 

Psychological birth care planning (if you’re pregnant)

A psychological birth care plan will be co-created with you to focus on identifying practical and interpersonal ways to boost your psychological wellbeing across antenatal appointments, labour, and the postnatal period. This will be shared with your maternity team and you will also have a copy.

Postnatal follow-ups

We usually offer follow up sessions around 4 to 8 weeks postnatally, to review your wellbeing following birth. We can guide you to other services as appropriate.


You can be referred to our service by your GP, mid wife, health visitor or from another Berkshire Healthcare service, such as The Perinatal Mental Health Service or Talking Therapies. 

Unfortunately we don’t accept self-referrals.

Your GP can contact our Common Point of Entry (CPE) team

Call 0300 365 2000 (Press option 4)

Email gateway@berkshire.nhs.uk 

When we accept your referral, we will invite you for an assessment to talk about your current difficulties, and what we are able to offer.

If we think this is the right service for you, we will place you on our waiting list for treatment. We may also guide you to other services if we think they can help. 

Referral criteria 

We consider referrals for pregnant people from primary and secondary care, with the primary presenting difficulty of severe fear of birth (known as tokophobia) that significantly impacts daily life. This could mean preoccupying in daily life, a severe negative impact on wellbeing, or preventing the person from preparing for, bonding with, or conceiving a baby.


  • Have therapy goals related to reducing birth related anxiety and preparing for birth/parenthood
  • Should be no more than 35 weeks pregnant at the point of referral, to enable sufficient time to engage in therapy prior to birth
  • Have sufficient stability to commit to therapy
  • People with higher levels of risk (e.g. contact with crisis services, have self-harmed in the last 6 months, or have current thoughts of harm to self) require care coordination with an appropriate mental health team to be in place prior to referral

We are a team of Psychologists and Cognitive Behavioural (CTB) Therapists, for the Birth Trauma Pathway service. Here are some of our team that you may meet when you come to our service. 

We all work together to provide the best service we can and strive to provide the right care for you.

Visit our team page to see our staff 

Our Neurodiversity Passport can help you communicate your needs to our staff. It covers sensory processing, your communication preferences, and topics that might make you feel anxious and overwhelmed, so that we can support you.   

Read about our neurodiversity passport