Fear of Pregnancy Phobia- Tokophobia
Do you wake up in the middle of the night shaking in fear that you’ll get pregnant?
Are you terrified by the thought of childbirth? Do you like kids but dread the idea of carrying a baby in your womb for nine months?
Is it normal to be afraid of pregnancy? While most first-time mothers are concerned about birthing pains, your fear has reached unreasonable levels. You may feel ashamed by this since society trains women to want children.
However, you simply can’t imagine yourself pregnant, much less in labor. The mere idea of pregnancy can cause you to break into a cold sweat.
It turns out that you might have Tokophobia. Don’t fret. The first step to overcoming this irrational fear of pregnancy is to understand why it came about.
What Is Tokophobia?
What is the fear of being pregnant called? The fear of pregnancy is known as
“Tokophobia.” It is derived from the Greek word “tokos,” meaning “childbirth,” and “phobos,” which means an intense fear of an object or a situation. Other names by which Tokophobia is known are Tocophobia, Enfantaphobia, Maieusiophobia, and Parturiphobia.
It is unclear how common Tokophobia is. While some studies state that nearly 6% to 7% of women worldwide suffer from this phobia, other studies indicate that as many as 20% to 25% of women suffer from intense terror surrounding childbirth.
This fear could keep women from having biological children. Some people who are tokophobic might even break into tears if they come across a pregnant woman or hear the word “pregnancy.”
This phobia is classified into two. Let us understand what these terms mean.
Primary Tokophobia usually manifests in women who have never given birth. This condition starts during adolescence. However, it may also begin in women during pregnancy.
Women who have a history of sexual abuse or trauma, miscarriage, abortion, termination of pregnancy, or complications related to childbirth are at a higher risk of developing primary Tokophobia. For such women, undergoing medical tests during the process of childbirth or pregnancy may provoke unpleasant memories.
Secondary Tokophobia develops in females who have already given birth, especially if the process was traumatic. These include women who have miscarried, gone through an abortion, or experienced a stillbirth. Unsuccessful fertility treatments can also trigger this phobia. Secondary Tokophobia can also manifest in women who have had normal or healthy pregnancies.
Other factors that can trigger Tokophobia include:
● Fear for the life of the unborn child
● Lack of trust in the healthcare system or doctors
● Fear of pregnancy-related issues and complications
● Hormonal changes
● Fear of the unknown
● Fear of undergoing extreme pain during childbirth
● Worry over the process of pregnancy and childbirth
● Hearing traumatic stories of pregnancy from friends and family
● A lack of social support
● Getting pregnant at a young age
People who are scared of being pregnant anxiety or believe that pregnancy is scary are often perceived to be overreacting or melodramatic. As a result, those who suffer from Tokophobia cannot discuss their worries with others, further causing isolation and depression.
Many women who are Tokophobic and scared pregnant may terminate their pregnancy because of this uncontrollable terror of giving birth.
Symptoms of Tokophobia
Do I have Tokophobia? How do you know if someone is scared of giving birth? Let us take a closer look at Tokophobia symptoms.
● Panic attacks
● Heightened anxiety
● Nightmares related to pregnancy and childbirth
● Experiencing thoughts of death
● Fast breathing
● Increase in heart rate
● Excessive sweating
● Shivering or trembling in fear
● Feeling hysterical
● Nausea at the thought of something growing inside one’s body
Not all those who have Tokophobia experience all the symptoms listed here. While some people may only show a few signs, others may experience more intense symptoms. Some women do not realize that they have this phobia until they become pregnant.
To be sure, consult a medical professional. You can also take an online Tokophobia test.
Self Help Techniques for Tokophobia
How do I overcome my fear of getting pregnant? Ideally, people who have Tokophobia should get professional help. However, some can cope by using self-help techniques.
If you choose not to seek professional assistance to overcome fear of pregnancy, here are some of the steps you can take.
Share Your Worries
Discuss your anxieties with friends and family members who you believe can understand your fears. Knowing that there are people who support you can reduce your anxiety surrounding pregnancy and childbirth to a great extent.
Avoid Scary Pregnancy Stories
You need to be aware of what happens during pregnancy and childbirth. However, you can get that information without having to deal with the emotional load of pregnancy horror stories.
Are you a first-time mother? As much as possible, skip the unpleasant stories regarding childbirth. If people continue sharing their negative experiences, ask them to stop. You don’t have to listen to these stories if they make you feel uncomfortable.
Take Prenatal Classes
If you want to become pregnant in the future but are being held back by your Tokophobia, try joining a prenatal class. Here, you will be made aware of all that happens during pregnancy, the changes that the body undergoes, and how you can manage pain better during labor.
Better yet, attend this class with your spouse or a close friend. This way, they can give you support and advice that’s based on facts, not just hearsay. Some participants discover a ready-made community of fellow mothers during these prenatal classes. These friendships can last even after the classes have ended and everyone has given birth.
Getting Professional Help for Tokophobia
If the self-help techniques are not working, it is best to seek professional help. This can be in the form of one-on-one support provided by midwives, psychologists, counselors, or obstetricians. A mental health specialist or a therapist might be in a better position to help you overcome your fear, especially if it starts to interfere with daily activities. They can help you discover how your fear developed in the first place.
One of the most common interventions is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Under CBT, the therapist exposes their patient to their fears repeatedly to help them get desensitized to their phobia. This technique is also used to help people overcome extreme anxiety and depression.
How to Avoid Tokophobia Altogether
It might not be possible to avoid Tokophobia altogether. The best that you can do is change the subject when someone starts talking about pregnancy. You may even choose to stay away from people who are planning to get pregnant or are in the process of childbirth.
However, you might miss out on having a family of your own because of this fear of pregnancy OCD. It’s important to discuss your unwillingness to give birth with your spouse or romantic partner in case you are in a relationship.
However, if you want to become pregnant in the future but are being held back by Tokophobia, then it is best that you seek professional help immediately. It’s high time to get input on how to manage your fears and pain surrounding childbirth.
Like other phobias, Tokophobia is not forever. With the right help and treatment, you can overcome your Tokophobia easily and go on to lead a normal, healthy life. Eventually, you will find yourself happily anticipating the pitter-patter of tiny feet in your home and into your heart.