During an interview I did earlier this week for a radio documentary on Tokophobia, I realised two things.
1. How tokophobia isn't really spoken about much
2. How common birth trauma and fear of birth actually is
What is tokophobia? Tokophobia is described as having a significant fear of childbirth. It has also been described as being the most common reason why some women request an elective csection (Wax, JR et al., 2004).
What are the symptoms of tokophobia?
Some of the symptoms of tokophobia include:
· Fear that your baby might get injured or die
· Intensive fear that you will seriously damage your vagina, birth canal or cervix
· Fear that you might die
What's the difference between birth trauma, birth anxiety and birth phobia/fear (tokophobia)?
Birth Trauma: Birth trauma is a type of post traumatic stress disorder. It is caused by someone going through a traumatic birth or birth experience which leaves them feeling extremely stressed and can include symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, not wanting to have sex, not wanting to become pregnant, issues bonding with the new baby and can even contribute to postnatal depression.
Birth Anxiety: This is where your birth expectations didn't necessarily go to plan and has left you feeling anxious, worried, unsettled, even fearful. The difference between an anxiety and a phobia is that one is unsettling and the other can be debilitating.
Birth phobia/ tokophobia: Tokophobia as described above is the fear of childbirth. Fear in general is usually described a response to a real or perceived threat. When a fear reaches the extent of a phobia it can mean that the person avoids a situation completely, or in this case, avoids pregnancy, sex and childbirth.
What can you do if you think you have tokophobia or birth trauma?
1. Speak to your GP in order to get a referral for councilling or psychotherapy. Or alternatively if you can afford it, speak to a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst directly. Many will do pro bono work. Get in touch with me if you need help finding one as I can help provide you with the details of a number of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts from the ConsultMyBaby directory.
2. Speak to your support network. You don't have to do this alone, and sometimes just sharing your feelings and thoughts with others can really help.
3. Get antenatal help: Whether you are a first or second (or more) time mum, speak to your GP, psychologists/ analysts or antenatal teachers or doulas in order to go through your fears and help prepare you as best as possible for your birth. Make sure you also get some help postnatally with the same people if possible or with a postnatal doula who will be able to debrief with you how the birth went.
Feel free to get in touch with me here at ConsultMyBaby if you need help antentally or postnatally, need help being pointed in the right direction or want access to the ConsultMyBaby Professionals Directory.
Founder & CEO of ConsultMyBaby.com - By Yasmin
Full Spectrum Doula
Postnatal Care & Breastfeeding Specialist
Pregnancy and Postnatal Massage Therapist