Pregnant women afraid of giving birth were given £500 from the NHS to attend yoga and massage classes for a ‘better birthing experience’.
Therapies undergone by birth-phobic patients were funded in the hope it will reduce the demand for caesarean deliveries.
The money was handed to six women to encourage them to elect a natural birth instead.
The mums-to-be all suffer from tokophobia – an extreme fear about giving birth.
They were funded classes in hypnotherapy, yoga and massage to provide "better birthing experiences".
The cash was given to the women by the Waltham Forest Clinical Commissing Group, based in east London, as part of a personal health budget – which allows people to have a say over how NHS money is spent on them.
The details were revealed in a Freedom of Information request, which suggested the scheme could be expanded.
The NHS body said: “We spent £3,000 for six patients with tokophobia (i.e. phobia of giving birth).
“The money was spent on a combination of therapies and interventions that include: hypnotherapy birthing classes, yoga for pregnancy, massage for pregnancy and cardio to build up stamina.
“The desired patient outcomes were better birthing experiences than had occurred in previous pregnancies and, where possible, less use of caesarean section as a method of delivery.”
But patient groups slammed the move.
Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, told The Sun : “It is just ridiculous.
"I think it is a daft idea particularly with the parlous state of the NHE finances.
“By all means women should attend such classes, but don’t expect the state to fund it.”
Mirror Online has approached Waltham Forest CCG for further comment.
NHS figures revealed last year almost 28 per cent of women had a caesarean – a three-fold rise since the 1980s
C-section reportedly cost the NHS £3,781 each compared to £1,985 for a natural birth.