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Scared of giving birth?

Lindsay-Leigh Thomas
There’s a name for it – Tokophobia - and here are all the facts.

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When you are pregnant, there are all the usual anxieties and fears. It’s totally natural and most woman experience a measure of nervousness.

The questions of, will I be able to push this baby out? Will childbirth be painful? And will I be able to do it? These are rational fears and concerns.

But for some woman, this worry and fear is a lot stronger.

The condition is known as Tokophobia and refers to the fear of pregnancy and childbirth and can be classified as primary (no experience) or secondary (due to depression and post traumatic stress disorder).

Unlike the common concerns, these fears focus on:
  • Unborn child being injured or dying during the birth
  • Personal injury during childbirth
  • Pain during childbirth
  • Anxiety relating to birth
  • Fear of vaginal birth
  • Not being in control of the birthing experience
  • Not trusting the medical practitioner
  • Death
Women with Tokophobia will often opt for caesarean section delivery if they continue with the pregnancy.

Risk factors
  • You have an anxiety disorder
  • Tokophobia is in your family
  • Previous traumatic birth experience
  • Depression
  • Post natal depression
  • Delayed bonding
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sweating and shaking
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Panic / anxiety attacks
  • Crying  
What can you do?
It can be hard to focus on having a positive birth experience when you suffer from Tokophobia.  Research has shown that fears can be reduced with psychological and emotional support from professionals as well as a family and friends. Inform your medical practitioner early in your pregnancy of your fears and make this a regular conversation point, discuss the option of seeking assistance from a medical professional who is trained to provide mental health support to expectant parents.

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Discuss any irrational fears and concerns
  • Hire a Doula to assist during the birthing process
  • Seek professional help
  • Join a support group for expectant moms
If you believe your fears associated with your pregnancy and childbirth are irrational and causing you distress please seek help. Tokophobia is a disorder which could be overlooked by many medical professionals, having support during this time will assist in making this experience more
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