A mother-of-two is trying to beat a phobia of vomit which was so severe that she was afraid to get pregnant for fear of morning sickness.

Hannah Harris has paid for counselling to overcome the phobia, which she says has taken over her life.

During "exposure therapy" she was shown pictures of people vomiting – but it just made her feel worse.

She has also undergone two bouts of pricey hypnotherapy, but so fair everything has proved unsuccessful.

The 34-year-old admitted her crippling emetophobia – a fear of vomiting or seeing others do so – left her nervous to start a family.

Afraid to start a family

Thankfully, she did not suffer any sickness symptoms, but still says that her fear is taking over her life.

Hannah, of Witney in Oxfordshire, said: "The constant panic never leaves my head. I'd say the phobia is the worst it's ever been now.

"I know it's irrational, but that doesn't stop me feeling anxious and afraid. I've had people say to me, 'You can't be that bad, you've had kids.' But what was the alternative? Not starting a family?

"I'm a single mum, so of course there are times when I have to deal with the children being sick. But I'll be so panicked afterwards that I won't be able to sleep."

Phobia started age 4

Hannah remembers being afraid of vomit from as young as four years old.

Then, when she was eight, she witnessed somebody be violently sick in front of her whilst visiting a relative in hospital – an experience that scars her to this day.

Over time, her phobia has steadily worsened.

Now, if she vomits herself, she said it can take weeks for her anxiety to subside, and if she is around somebody else doing it, she hyperventilates and has panic attacks.

For Hannah, emetophobia goes hand in hand with a fear of germs, which sees her get through two bottles of bleach, two of hand wash and two of antibacterial hand gel every week.

"Germs making people sick is what scares me the most, I worry that they've got something contagious and will pass it on to me and the children," she said.

"When I was pregnant with my son Ben, my daughter Sophie and I got gastroenteritis. That was horrendous. There were moments I thought I would rather be dead.

"I know that sounds dramatic, but that's how severe phobias make you feel."

In a cruel twist, Hannah was diagnosed with lung disease four years ago, and must take regular medication that leaves her prone to bouts of nausea.

She takes anti-sickness tablets in an attempt to counteract this, but said they do not always work.

Her fears also seep into what she can eat, as she is constantly worried about contracting food poisoning.

‘I tried everything’

She continued: "I absolutely cremate meat when I cook. It's also a real struggle for me to relax enough to enjoy eating in restaurants. If I hear just one story about somebody getting sick off the food, I won't go."

Over the years, Hannah has tried a string of treatments in a bid to cure her phobia, including two bouts of hypnosis, cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy, but nothing so far has worked.

Now, she is trying to reach out to acclaimed therapists Nik and Eva Speakman, but has not been able to get in touch with them so far.

"The Speakmans are my last hope," she admitted.

Because she does not want to pass her fears on to her children, she rarely opens up about them.

But bravely, she has chosen to speak for the first time in a bid to raise awareness of how debilitating phobias can be.

"Emetophobia takes everything away from you. It's robbed me of being able to relax and enjoy life," she said.

"I'm going on holiday with the children in a few weeks but I'm already panicked at the thought of being exposed to germs on the plane.

"I would never hold the children back or stop them from doing something because of my own phobia, but they can tell when I'm not relaxed.

"I've not spoken out before because I was worried people would think I was ridiculous. I understand that nobody likes sick, but most people don't have full on panic attacks if they're exposed to it.

"I want nothing more to be cured. The difference it would make to my life would be astounding."