tokophobia:Intense fear of childbirth


tokophobia:Intense fear of childbirth

   Pregnant women have a lot of problems and concerns during pregnancy

Tokophobia is the most serious problem that a pregnant woman may suffer in the last period of pregnancy and is known as fear of childbirth

This disease may affect pregnant women who give birth for the first time or who have given birth previously.

Symptoms of tokophobia 

can include sleep disturbances, panic attacks, nightmares, and avoidance behaviors.

Other symptoms might include:1

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Extreme fear of birth defects, stillbirth, or maternal death
  • Feelings of dread at the thought of pregnancy and birth
  • Insistence on a Caesarean section for their birth

Women may sometimes avoid any sexual activity out of fear of becoming pregnant. Those who do become pregnant may be more likely to request an elective c-section, feel greater trauma surrounding the birth, and may even have difficulty bonding with her baby.

Reasons of tokophobia 

Researchers have suggested a number of explanations to account for the development of tokophobia. Some of these including hearing about traumatizing accounts of childbirth experiences from other women, fear of inadequate pain management, and pre-existing psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression.

There are two different types of tokophobia:

Primary tokophobia
Secondary tokophobia occurs in women who have previously experienced pregnancy and birth. It is often the result of traumatic labor and birth. However, it can also occur in women who had normal, non-traumatic births, as well as women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy termination, or failed fertility treatments.

Some factors that may contribute to its development of tokophobia can include:

Fear for the life of the infant and/or a lack of trust in medical practitioners
Fear of birth-related complications, such as preeclampsia and death
Fear of pain
Fear of the unknown, loss of control and privacy
Having a history of anxiety, depression, or childhood sexual abuse
Hearing traumatic birth stories from friends or on social media
Hormonal changes that make it harder to manage anxiety
Psychosocial factors like getting pregnant at a young age, being impoverished, or lack of social support
Uncertainty over the labor and birth process

    At its most extreme, tokophobia can lead to:

  • an obsessive use of contraception to prevent pregnancy
  • termination of pregnancy
  • not attending maternity care appointments
  • post-traumatic stress disorder and/or other mental health disorders and mother-baby bonding difficulties.

Tokophobia comes in two forms: primary (in women who have not had a baby before) and secondary (women who have previously had a baby). Women with tokophobia in a previous pregnancy are more likely to have it in a subsequent pregnancy, resulting in a potential cycle of anxiety and depression.

Quoting Vijayawada Reports: A 24-year-old pregnant woman allegedly died of suicide by jumping into a well due to tokophobia (fear of childbirth) in Musonoro on Thursday.

According to Musunuru SI Raja Reddy, the woman married in February and was 8 months pregnant. Citing family members, SI said the woman has been afraid of having a baby since her fifth month of pregnancy.

"After learning of her condition, her family members took her to several hospitals in Vijayawada and Iloro for treatment," SI said. However, the woman could not conquer the fear. 

Treatment for tokophobia

Tokophobia can be a lot less debilitating if you have a strong support system, including partners, mothers, sisters or friends and colleagues. One study reported a 50% reduction in caesarean birth rates when women received psychological and prenatal support.

Some other forms of treatment include cognitive behaviour therapy, psychotherapy and taking medication to help tackle your feelings. You could also try hypnobirthing techniques to see if that helps ease the anxiety. 

Pathways of care

The way childbirth is often depicted in the media may play a role in setting birth up in women’s minds as a negative experience. But it’s important women share birth stories - the good and the bad. Like-minded peer support mechanisms, including parenting forums, which can be really helpful for some women.

During pregnancy, women should be encouraged to share their fears with their maternity care provider and ask questions.

Our understanding of fear of childbirth has undoubtedly increased, and some pioneering “pathways of care” for women with tokophobia already exist.

But there is much work left to do if we are to understand and identify when standard worries deviate from expected levels to problematic levels.

We owe it to women and babies everywhere to find better ways to support women with tokophobia and maximise their chances of a positive birth experience.

And you, dear emergency, did you pass the disease experience? Share it with us in the comments