Not everybody thrills at the idea of having a child – the swollen belly, the water retention, the nausea, the dreadful nine months culminating in labour – it can be the stuff of nightmares. A fear that is as real as that of being stuck in small, suffocating spaces, or even that of dizzying heights, or eight legged creepy spiders. The clinical term for this paralysing fear is tokophobia.
The symptoms of this disorder include feelings of dread or panic when the idea of childbirth or pregnancy arises, or refusing to go through with childbirth unless elective Caesarean section can be guaranteed.
Source: Health By Nature
An intense increase in anxiety or depression while pregnant, or the fear that childbirth will result in maternal death, stillbirth, miscarriage or birth defects. This could sometimes stem from previous terminations of apparently healthy pregnancies.
Studies have been conducted and recorded in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal: it has been found that up to 13% of non-pregnant women experience the fear of pregnancy and childbirth enough to dissuade them from ever having kids or postpone having children.
Source: Huffington Post
There is no specific cause that explains what may seem like an irrational fear, but rather it is a combination of personal experiences and factors from which this disorder stems. This could sometimes be an intense fear of pain or sometimes as traumatic as childhood sexual abuse or rape.
One woman started the discussion of her personal struggle with Tokophobia on Reddit, and to her relief, she was not alone. She wrote:
In an interview with Mic, Jeena Chacko, who’s known from a young age that having a child was not for her said:
And for Stephanie Jones, who suffered 13 hours of labour and a traumatising C-section during the birth of her first child it is the fear of going through the same trauma again, she told Huffington Post.
Tokophobia is as real as any other psychological disorder, and it is important to bear in mind that childbirth is not always a period of unbounding joy and anticipation of bouncy babies.