Research at a Swedish Medical University shows that use of relaxation techniques (psychoprophylaxis) helps men get rid of their fear for childbirth, medically referred to as tocophobia. It seems to reduce the occurrences of emergency C-section deliveries.

As a result, almost 70 per cent of maternity clinics at Sweden offer practical preparatory childbirth training, involving psychoprophylaxis.

Study author Malin Bergström, noted that there is no correlation between antenatal psychoprophylactic training and anyone’s experiences of the actual delivery, the use of epidurals or the labor process.

"These men make up a group that we have very scarce knowledge about, one that can actually benefit from psychoprophylaxis," says Ms Bergström. "This is important, as these men are easily neglected, and if they don't receive help the chances are that they won't tell anyone about their fears. Apart from the personal effect this has, it is also possible that this affects their relationship with the mother and child."

Researchers first categorized men as tocophobic based on a questionnaire. 11 per cent of the 762 participants were identified as tocophobic.

"This is a significant proportion of the men," says Ms Bergström. "Our study shows that these men also had a higher level of general anxiety during their partners' pregnancy, and lower self-confidence about becoming good parents."

She stressed that parental training during childbirth definitely helps.

"Through a program of structured drills and counseling, they learn what the woman needs during labor and how the men can help. They seem to feel more prepared for the delivery process and this presumably alleviates their fear and anxiety."

Sometimes, she noted that these men might have partners who also have similar fears, stressing the importance of parental guidance courses.

"Psychoprophylaxis is currently an incredibly popular part of parental training," she says. "However, research has shown that it is of no benefit to the vast majority of expectant parents. Psychoprophylaxis is most popular amongst the better-off. But people have different needs. It's a method that might prove well suited to fathers with a fear of childbirth."