If you resent the thought of ever having a baby so much that even being near a pregnant woman is unbearable for you, you could very well be suffering from Tokophobia. Let us explore this strange fear that is almost a taboo in our society, so that we understand it a little better.
Tokophobia is defined as a debilitating phobia of both pregnancy as well as childbirth. What makes it worse is that many women cannot talk openly about it because we live in a world where pregnancy is naturally expected to be the happiest phase of a woman’s life.
However, do not confuse Tokophobia with pregnancy related anxiety; every pregnant woman faces bouts of anxiety and some even experience mild depression, but Tokophobia is something a lot more serious.
Could you have Tokophobia?
The most important thing to understand is that Tokophobia could be a serious disorder and can result in long term damages if not understood. What makes it even more dangerous is that it is not easy to diagnose; many women mistake Tokophobia for a ‘lack of interest in ever having a baby’ and make life-changing decisions without realizing they are dealing with a phobia.
While many women living with Tokophobia choose elective termination not because they ‘do not want the baby at this point of time’ but because ‘they are afraid to have a baby’, they are not open about the same with their doctors and sometimes even their partners.
Some symptoms of Tokophobia are:
- Feelings of dread when someone mentions childbirth
- Not wanting to have a baby until the doctor agrees to a C-section
- Intense anxiety and depression while pregnant because thoughts of childbirth give cause to panic
- Wanting to become a mother but not wanting to go through childbirth
- Termination of previous healthy pregnancies because the thought of going through the agony of normal childbirth was frightening
- Extreme fear that relies on the assumption that childbirth will cause death or serious damage
Taking a closer look at Tokophobia
Like all other phobias, Tokophobia also has many degrees and each case might be unique. However, for most patients, the common factor will be their fear of a natural childbirth. Some will be brave enough to not abort the fetus but then elect for a C-section and have it no other way, while others will refuse to get pregnant even though they are not opposed to being a parent and the responsibilities attached to it, and will even show an interest in adoption.
For most women with Tokophobia, postnatal depression is also common, especially if they have been forced by the family and doctors to go through a normal pregnancy.
In fact, those who fear childbirth so much that the thought of ever becoming pregnant is repulsive to them will use multiple methods of contraception at a time to ensure that they do not conceive.
This is often called as Secondary Tokophobia, wherein the fear is not just of childbirth, but of pregnancy itself. Such women find the very idea of pregnancy ‘disgusting and undignified’, and actually dislike being in the company of other pregnant women because even listening to their ‘pregnancy talk’ is unbearable.
Is Tokophobia serious?
The answer depends on you and your choices. If you do want to become a mother and have a family someday, it could be a serious problem, considering you will need to find a gynecologist and obstetrician who can understand what you are going through and work with you to make your pregnancy and childbirth more bearable.