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:
- 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
A Closer Look At Tokophobia
Tokophobia is a specific and harrowing condition that needs acknowledging 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.
But if it has become a case for concern then seek therapy or counselling from an expert. Just all all phobias, Tokophobia can take over your life if not dealt effectively and swiftly.
Hi, thanks for writing about tokophobia – it’s a horrible thing to have! However I think you’ve got a couple of terms mixed up. Primary tokophobia is when you’re afraid of childbirth before having a child, and secondary tokophobia is when you’re afraid as the result of a traumatic birth. Fear of pregnancy is a related but different phobia.
Thanks for liking the article 🙂
Heavy stuff. I have never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it. I suffer from this personally and people usually think I am a freak! Lol
Wow. I couldn’t imagine feeling like that. I am probably the opposite… You know, when kids stuff pillows under their shirt pretending to be pregnant kinda thing :p Does it effect you a lot in the day-to-day?
Yes, it’s pretty difficult for me since I find it difficult to be around pregnant women and they seem to lot around, everywhere. The sight of the huge belly freaks me out and since I can’t really explain to the happy mom-to-be how I am feeling, I am usually termed as a ‘snob’. But trust me, the fear of pregnancy and pregnant woman is pretty nerve-wracking. But thankfully this is a legit condition and I am not the only one suffering from it.
Thank you for the information. I doubt I will ever get over my fear but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one this afraid of just the idea of being pregnant. However that last picture really bothered me. That is the image I get when I think of being pregnant, and I feel instantly sick.
Why is this termed as a condition? Just because a woman is capable to reproduce doesn’t mean she is meant to reproduce. There are so many women who make lousy mothers. Yet they go through the experience because society expects them to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman who dislikes or is disgusted by pregnancy and childbirth – it is really not a pretty sight! Maybe there is nothing to overcome. A society that labels women as having a “clinical condition” because they lack the inclination to reproduce, that is something out of the dark ages. I hope we will someday evolve into a society, where women are not seen as baby machines.
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I think it’s a very good thing that I don’t want to have kids ever because they freak me out like the pregnancy and birth stuff itself. I don’t think it’s serious enough to be a phobia in my case (for example, I don’t have panic attacks when I see a preggo) but I still feel a strong disgust over the entire topic. Thank god I have a choice! Oh, and that belly picture… It’s going to haunt me!
Thanks for publishing this! I suffer from Tokophobia. In fact, it’s so bad that even seeing pictures of pregnancy or being around pregnant women can drive me to anxiety. In fact, today, I was at a cook out and a friend’s friend is heavily pregnant. It puts me in a awkward position, because they tried for a long time to have a child, so their joy is happiness times ten. But then there’s me who insists on not looking at her, and had to pretend to go to the bathroom, because she wanted to sit in the comfy chair next to me.
Last year, she even scolded me when I spoke openly about not wanting children. She said the same old things I heard before. “Not all of us can have children easily.” Maybe I shouldn’t have been annoyed. She was going through a tough time getting pregnant. But I kept wondering why just because I can have children, I should. I dislike the thought of pregnancy, never wanted to be a mother, and it’s best if I don’t.
I’ve been working with myself to not get so anxious being around someone who is pregnant. And it’s getting better and better each day. It’s mostly so it’s not debilitating to my social life and mental sanity. But I will probably remain child free for the rest of my life. That’s why I have the sweetest dog in the world. My personal preference over children.
Sorry for my rambling. It’s early in the morning and I’m going on two hours of sleep. 🙂
thanks for sharing such a thing which I can relate to myself….I have all kinds of phobia related to pregnancy you have mentioned here or can exist anywhere else. I can relate some of the comments also to myself, even the sight of a pregnant woman haunts me…. I am afraid of the damages and pains which a woman’s body undergoes during and after pregnancy… I don’t understand how can somebody call a picture of a big tummy beautiful… I never find these pictures beautiful or divine…When somebody is pregnant, I never feel to say congrats, but I say that just to make the lady feel good. But seriously I never feel good when I see somebody pregnant. I immediately start to imagine the pain she will be going through and she will go through in the future… I feel really surprised when I see my friends pregnant, I feel “she also”. I don’t know why I feel that the child birth is such an unusual thing and believe many people would not go for it and they will feel the same way I do..
Actually there are thousands of things I can describe..
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