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    Tokophobia: How to Manage Your Phobia of Pregnancy & Childbirth

    Fears & Phobias

    Tokophobia: How to Manage Your Phobia of Pregnancy & Childbirth

    Updated on 10 May 2023

    Women either get to know about pregnancy and childbirth from others’ experiences that usually depict a tremendous amount of pain in the vaginal birth or from their own terrible experience of first pregnancy. Such experiences often trigger a deep fear about the very idea of bearing a child and vaginal birth. This deep-rooted fear leads to a condition called “Tokophobia” for many women and is explained by modern science as a pathological fear of pregnancy. It may even lead to the avoidance of childbirth completely in many women.

    In this article, we will discuss tokophobia in detail and learn its types, symptoms, potential factors and its treatment and management.

    You may also like to read : Top 10 Health Issues Related To Women

    Types of Tokophobia

    Tokophobia has two types - primary and secondary.

    1. Primary Tokophobia

    Primary Tokophobia occurs in first-time mothers or women who have never been pregnant before. The contributing factors of primary tokophobia can be others' traumatic or painful experiences.

    2. Secondary Tokophobia

    Secondary tokophobia is seen in women who had a terrible first birthing experience that leaves them with an absolute fear of delivering a child again.

    Now, let’s know the other aspects of Tokophobia.


    Here are some of the most common symptoms of tokophobia:

    1. An irrational and unreasonable amount of fear about pregnancy and vaginal birth.
    2. Lack of emotional connection with the unborn child
    3. Lack of excitement about their pregnancy, trying to hide the news
    4. Sleeping disorder, panic attacks, and nightmares of birth defects or even maternal death.
    5. More insistence on the C section instead of vaginal delivery.
    6. Women are even seen to avoid sexual contact due to the fear of becoming pregnant.

    You may also like to read : How To Maintain Your Mental Health During Pregnancy

    Causes of Tokophobia

    Causes and potential factors that may contribute to the development of tokophobia in women include the following:

    1. Lack of trust in doctors, loss of control, and privacy.
    2. Fear of birth-related complications including death.
    3. Fear of pain and uncertainty associated with labor and birth process.
    4. An existing history of anxiety, depression, and childhood sexual abuse
    5. Hearing traumatic birth stories from others.
    6. Psychosocial factors such as lack of social/family support or poor finances.

    Treatment of Tokophobia

    Before tokophobia can be treated, it's important to diagnose the condition. A doctor can help diagnose tokophobia by examining the mental health of the pregnant woman.

    Therapy and Counselling

    In order to treat tokophobia, support from the obstetrician in coordination with mental health professionals is required to find out why the disorder has developed in the first place. A mix of counselling sessions to give reassurance, imparting education, and an appropriate health care regime can help tackle the fears associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

    Other Support Structure

    Social or family support is highly comforting and plays a very crucial role for women dealing with tokophobia. One-on-one discussions and support groups equally serve as a strong support system. Some additional treatments for tokophobia include antidepressants, hypnotherapy and stress reduction techniques.

    How to cope with Tokophobia?

    If you are dealing with this constant and significant fear affecting your life, you must:

    1. Discuss your fears and feelings with your partner, family members, friends or doctor or write them down in your journal.
    2. Think of a birth plan to minimize the pain, prepare yourself and discuss your plan with your doctor.
    3. Stay away from fear-triggering stories, shut out other people's negative experiences and avoid dwelling on negative thoughts.
    4. Join a good prenatal class to calm your fears, talk with fellow mothers who might be feeling the same and prepare for the journey ahead
    5. Practice stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises.

    Tokophobia can take a toll on any expecting mother and her growing baby. By consulting a doctor and following coping techniques, you can manage tokophobia and enjoy your pregnancy. We wish you happy motherhood ahead!

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    Written by

    Charu Pratap

    Charu has been a seasoned corporate professional with over a decade of experience in Human Resource Management. She has managed the HR function for start-ups as well as established companies. But aside from her corporate career she was always fond of doing things with a creative streak. She enjoys gardening and writing and is an experienced content expert and linguist. Her own experiences with motherhood and raising a baby made her realize the importance of reliable and fact-based parenting information. She was engaged in creating content for publishing houses, research scholars, corporates as well as for her own blog.

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