Pregnancy / Childbirth

Tokophobia, or morbid fear of pregnancy and childbirth


The vast majority of women feel fear of giving birth. Young mothers are afraid of pain, unexpected complications that could threaten the health or life of the child. They are also afraid of postpartum complications. Often, while still pregnant, they are worried whether they will manage during the solution, whether they will know what and how to do, and then whether they will meet the new, how difficult role of being a mother. Above all, however, they are worried about whether the child will be born healthy ... These types of fears seem natural and completely understandable in the face of childbirth, which is undoubtedly one of the most difficult moments in a woman's life. He requires her to mobilize all forces, both physical and mental. Feeling fear in this case should not come as a surprise. However, sometimes the fear of getting pregnant becomes so strong that a woman gives up trying to get a baby ...

Tokophobia - a fad or disease?

Tokophobia is included in the group of neurotic disorders and manifests itself as a panic fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Due to diagnostic difficulties, it is not possible to know exactly how many pregnant women are affected. It is estimated that they account for 6 to 10 percent of all pregnancies.

A morbid fear of becoming pregnant can be seen in both the birthright (primary tokophobia) and the women who have already given birth (secondary tokophobia). In the second case, it can be caused by traumatic experiences from the first delivery. Although not all doctors recognize the existence of tokophobia, the vast majority of specialists emphasize that this is a disease and, like any other, requires treatment. It has its source in a woman's psyche and cannot be cured with her words: "Get a grip!" Or "It will be okay!" This phobia is not a figment of the pregnant woman, a mere fad. It is a disease and the woman affected by it requires the help of specialists in both gynecology and obstetrics, as well as psychiatry.

Where does the panic fear of pregnancy and childbirth come from?

Often, something that we do not know, do not understand, we are not able to fully control, it arouses fear in us. So it is with childbirth. Women affected by tokophobia, thinking about the upcoming delivery, have the worst scenarios in their eyes ... They assume that something will go wrong and they will not have an impact on it. They are hyperactive, have trouble sleeping, nightmares. Often, in order not to get pregnant, they use e.g. several contraceptives at once. They experience many gastrointestinal complaints, suffer from abdominal pain, migraines, neuralgia, and vomit. Sudden mood swings or bouts of hysteria are observed. They are not always able to deal with their own emotions that they experience. Fear disorganizes their lives and can even lead to depression. All this means that in extreme cases they make decisions about abortion or putting the child for adoption.

Where does this morbid fear come from? There can be many reasons and the case of each woman should be considered individually. Sometimes these are bad memories of an earlier birth, at other times experience of sexual, psychological or physical violence or just frequent listening to long stories of terrifying births. Specialists emphasize how strongly the environment in which we live has an impact on our behavior. What we experience every day and what information we receive affects our decisions. Often, based on the experience of other people, we build our own image on a given topic. It's the same with pregnancy. A woman whose mother reported her traumatic births in detail will be afraid of giving birth.

Caesarean section as a way out of the situation?

As statistics show, the number of pregnancies terminated by caesarean section has increased significantly in recent years. In many cases it is a necessity to ensure the safety of mother and child. However, more and more women are choosing such a way to end their pregnancy not because of medical recommendations but because of fear of giving birth by nature.

Should tokophobia be an indication for Caesarean section? There is no agreement among specialists about this. On the one hand, a woman who exhibits this type of mental disorder may have birth problems by forces of nature. Fear can paralyze her, prevent good cooperation with medical staff, "block" childbirth, which will leave deep trauma in her mind. On the other hand, doctors are afraid that there may be many unjustified Caesarean sections.

How to help a woman suffering from tokophobia?

In that case, can we somehow help a pregnant woman "tame" this fear? Prevention is important here. First of all, we should learn to talk about childbirth. We often find out that giving birth is a terrible experience from statements on Internet forums, in the media, stories from friends and acquaintances and sometimes even strangers.