Specific phobia of vomiting (SPOV) can be a severe and debilitating anxiety disorder and affects women in the childbearing years. The perinatal period and early parenthood is a time of increased risk for the onset or exacerbation of anxiety problems, which can have an impact on both the woman and the developing child. There are particular issues pertinent to the physical experience of pregnancy and tasks of early caregiving that women with SPOV may find difficult or distressing to confront, but these are not well documented. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) focused on exposure to vomit cues and processing distressing early memories of vomiting is an effective treatment for SPOV. This paper describes the successful CBT treatment of two young mothers with SPOV, outlining the challenges faced by parents at this time and the need to take this into account in treatment, using illustrative case material.
Key learning aims
(1) To understand how specific phobia of vomiting (SPOV) affects women in early parenthood.
(2) To know how to target and update traumatic early memories of vomiting with imagery rescripting.
(3) To know how to design and carry out effective behavioural experiments for perinatal SPOV.
(4) To understand how to take mother, baby, and the mother–infant relationship into account in SPOV treatment.