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mercredi 17 octobre 2018

What is tokophobia and what causes fear of pregnancy?

Pregnancy Ladies

Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and birth that affects around 10% of women worldwide. The word comes from Greek tokos meaning childbirth and phobos which means fear. Now, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, that typically involve an intensely irrational fear of an object or situation that poses little or no danger. And we often associate phobias with things like spiders or closed in spaces. Tokophobia is classed as either primary tokophobia or secondary tokophobia; primary tokophobia is a dread of childbirth that pre-dates pregnancy, whereas secondary tokophobia occurs after a traumatic or distressing delivery. Another way to think about the difference between primary and secondary tokophobia is this: one is a fear arising from a direct experience of birth, whereas the other comes from indirect birth-related experiences; seeing them in films, hearing about them, medical or sexual experiences. Apparently, Helen Mirren revealed she has tokophobia in an interview in 2007, saying a birth video she saw as a 13 year old disgusted her so much that she never wanted to have children or anything to do with birth. I can totally relate to this. I saw a birth video at school that traumatised me for years. How does tokophobia show up? Well, the physical and psychological symptoms of tokophobia vary but they can include: Recurrent nightmares Hyperventilating Sweating and shaking Panic and anxiety attacks Crying (triggered by sight or even words) Nausea and vomiting Thoughts of death or dying It’s often labelled as an irrational phobia, but in my opinion this is not entirely fair on those who suffer from it. For a start, this isn’t a normal phobia in that sense because for one thing, childbirth childbirth can actually be fatal. Unlike being stuck in a closed space, for example. So irrational is probably not the best word to use. Furthermore, its very possible that if you ask a woman who suffers from tokophobia, she might tell you that it’s a rational fear that’s completely understandable. “I don’t need help. It’s a perfectly rational fear.” Of course not all, but many will. I used to be tokophobic so I have some insight into this, but when I decided that I wanted to do a podcast on this I decided to ask other women about it too, because we’re all different and my experience is unique to me. My tokophobic experience For years I was in denial about wanting kids. On some level I knew I wanted them, but it never went any further than that. Despite being in a serious relationship, I never initiated The Kids conversation and it never came up. To be honest, I wouldn’t have even said that I had anything wrong with me because I wasn’t being faced with the pressure of pregnancy. But, I couldn’t handle kids, especially babies. If anyone brought new babies into work for the usual “here’s my new baby” drop-in session, I would run a mile. Someone tried to hand their baby over to me once and I freaked. I had to escape to the toilet and cry. I had no idea why though. I was in a group of friends that weren’t into babies and I had no family pressure to have babies so I was able to avoid the whole baby thing quite easily to the point that as far as I was concerned I didn’t have a problem. If you’d asked me back then if I had tokophobia I would have said no. That changed, the minute I discovered that I was pregnant. Then I FREAKED!! The first month of my first unplanned pregnancy was pretty dark. Adjusting to my newfound pregnant status was hard for me and my emotions were all over the place; all shades of negative. When I miscarried at 8 weeks I was relieved. I was gutted and numb with loss, but I was relieved too. That bit scared me and made me realise that something wasn’t right. It was then that I really started tackling my own head trash. If you’re a regular listener of my podcast, you’ll know that I also have another podcast called The Head Trash Show which helps you to clear your head trash using a powerful new therapeutic technique that I’ve simplified so that anyone can use it without being trained in it. I had just trained in that therapy for my work, but I knew that the first thing I had to do was to start with the inside of my head. I made great progress on my general level of anxiety, but when the time for be to become pregnant again a year later, I still had a huge level of fear around being pregnant. The whole idea of it still completely freaked me out. I couldn’t read about birth without crying… for no reason… In my pregnancy books, I couldn’t even open the pages where it showed pictures of the birth canal. I did it once and felt a panic attack rising so I shut the book…


The role of health care professionals
Now, there are some troubling aspects to this fear, because some of them are driven by how women perceive they will be treated by doctors and medical staff. For example, “I can’t imagine being so helpless and having strangers looking at my genitals and touching me like a steak, like I’m not there. It’s like you’re not a person anymore. I’m also scared that if I lost consciousness during pregnancy and something something was wrong with me then there’s a possibility that some doctor would decide to “sacrifice” me to save the foetus.” “Our ‘modern’ birth process, where you are treated as a piece of meat, where hospital workers can do to you whatever they want. Women being forced to give birth laying on their backs. For me this is torturing and the only worst position could be handstand! ….. I also have difficulties dealing with the fact that most intimate part of the body is so highly exposed to unknown people in the delivery room, especially especially men.” This aspect of this fear is quite depressing for me, because this is something that can be helped. How women are treated within medical environments is perpetuating this fear and if health care professionals acted more mindfully and realised how their behaviour affects women in their care, then we could go a long way in reducing these kinds of fears in women. 

Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and birth that affects around 10% of women worldwide. The word comes from Greek tokos meaning childbirth and phobos which means fear. Now, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, that typically involve an intensely irrational fear of an object or situation that poses little or no danger. And we often associate phobias with things like spiders or closed in spaces. Tokophobia is classed as either primary tokophobia or secondary tokophobia; primary tokophobia is a dread of childbirth that pre-dates pregnancy, whereas secondary tokophobia occurs after a traumatic or distressing delivery. Another way to think about the difference between primary and secondary tokophobia is this: one is a fear arising from a direct experience of birth, whereas the other comes from indirect birth-related experiences; seeing them in films, hearing about them, medical or sexual experiences. Apparently, Helen Mirren revealed she has tokophobia in an interview in 2007, saying a birth video she saw as a 13 year old disgusted her so much that she never wanted to have children or anything to do with birth. I can totally relate to this. I saw a birth video at school that traumatised me for years. How does tokophobia show up? Well, the physical and psychological symptoms of tokophobia vary but they can include: Recurrent nightmares Hyperventilating Sweating and shaking Panic and anxiety attacks Crying (triggered by sight or even words) Nausea and vomiting Thoughts of death or dying It’s often labelled as an irrational phobia, but in my opinion this is not entirely fair on those who suffer from it. For a start, this isn’t a normal phobia in that sense because for one thing, childbirth childbirth can actually be fatal. Unlike being stuck in a closed space, for example. So irrational is probably not the best word to use. Furthermore, its very possible that if you ask a woman who suffers from tokophobia, she might tell you that it’s a rational fear that’s completely understandable. “I don’t need help. It’s a perfectly rational fear.” Of course not all, but many will. I used to be tokophobic so I have some insight into this, but when I decided that I wanted to do a podcast on this I decided to ask other women about it too, because we’re all different and my experience is unique to me. My tokophobic experience For years I was in denial about wanting kids. On some level I knew I wanted them, but it never went any further than that. Despite being in a serious relationship, I never initiated The Kids conversation and it never came up. To be honest, I wouldn’t have even said that I had anything wrong with me because I wasn’t being faced with the pressure of pregnancy. But, I couldn’t handle kids, especially babies. If anyone brought new babies into work for the usual “here’s my new baby” drop-in session, I would run a mile. Someone tried to hand their baby over to me once and I freaked. I had to escape to the toilet and cry. I had no idea why though. I was in a group of friends that weren’t into babies and I had no family pressure to have babies so I was able to avoid the whole baby thing quite easily to the point that as far as I was concerned I didn’t have a problem. If you’d asked me back then if I had tokophobia I would have said no. That changed, the minute I discovered that I was pregnant. Then I FREAKED!! The first month of my first unplanned pregnancy was pretty dark. Adjusting to my newfound pregnant status was hard for me and my emotions were all over the place; all shades of negative. When I miscarried at 8 weeks I was relieved. I was gutted and numb with loss, but I was relieved too. That bit scared me and made me realise that something wasn’t right. It was then that I really started tackling my own head trash. If you’re a regular listener of my podcast, you’ll know that I also have another podcast called The Head Trash Show which helps you to clear your head trash using a powerful new therapeutic technique that I’ve simplified so that anyone can use it without being trained in it. I had just trained in that therapy for my work, but I knew that the first thing I had to do was to start with the inside of my head. I made great progress on my general level of anxiety, but when the time for be to become pregnant again a year later, I still had a huge level of fear around being pregnant. The whole idea of it still completely freaked me out. I couldn’t read about birth without crying… for no reason… In my pregnancy books, I couldn’t even open the pages where it showed pictures of the birth canal. I did it once and felt a panic attack rising so I shut the book…


The role of health care professionals
Now, there are some troubling aspects to this fear, because some of them are driven by how women perceive they will be treated by doctors and medical staff. For example, “I can’t imagine being so helpless and having strangers looking at my genitals and touching me like a steak, like I’m not there. It’s like you’re not a person anymore. I’m also scared that if I lost consciousness during pregnancy and something something was wrong with me then there’s a possibility that some doctor would decide to “sacrifice” me to save the foetus.” “Our ‘modern’ birth process, where you are treated as a piece of meat, where hospital workers can do to you whatever they want. Women being forced to give birth laying on their backs. For me this is torturing and the only worst position could be handstand! ….. I also have difficulties dealing with the fact that most intimate part of the body is so highly exposed to unknown people in the delivery room, especially especially men.” This aspect of this fear is quite depressing for me, because this is something that can be helped. How women are treated within medical environments is perpetuating this fear and if health care professionals acted more mindfully and realised how their behaviour affects women in their care, then we could go a long way in reducing these kinds of fears in women. 

Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and birth that affects around 10% of women worldwide. The word comes from Greek tokos meaning childbirth and phobos which means fear. Now, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, that typically involve an intensely irrational fear of an object or situation that poses little or no danger. And we often associate phobias with things like spiders or closed in spaces. Tokophobia is classed as either primary tokophobia or secondary tokophobia; primary tokophobia is a dread of childbirth that pre-dates pregnancy, whereas secondary tokophobia occurs after a traumatic or distressing delivery. Another way to think about the difference between primary and secondary tokophobia is this: one is a fear arising from a direct experience of birth, whereas the other comes from indirect birth-related experiences; seeing them in films, hearing about them, medical or sexual experiences. Apparently, Helen Mirren revealed she has tokophobia in an interview in 2007, saying a birth video she saw as a 13 year old disgusted her so much that she never wanted to have children or anything to do with birth. I can totally relate to this. I saw a birth video at school that traumatised me for years. How does tokophobia show up? Well, the physical and psychological symptoms of tokophobia vary but they can include: Recurrent nightmares Hyperventilating Sweating and shaking Panic and anxiety attacks Crying (triggered by sight or even words) Nausea and vomiting Thoughts of death or dying It’s often labelled as an irrational phobia, but in my opinion this is not entirely fair on those who suffer from it. For a start, this isn’t a normal phobia in that sense because for one thing, childbirth childbirth can actually be fatal. Unlike being stuck in a closed space, for example. So irrational is probably not the best word to use. Furthermore, its very possible that if you ask a woman who suffers from tokophobia, she might tell you that it’s a rational fear that’s completely understandable. “I don’t need help. It’s a perfectly rational fear.” Of course not all, but many will. I used to be tokophobic so I have some insight into this, but when I decided that I wanted to do a podcast on this I decided to ask other women about it too, because we’re all different and my experience is unique to me. My tokophobic experience For years I was in denial about wanting kids. On some level I knew I wanted them, but it never went any further than that. Despite being in a serious relationship, I never initiated The Kids conversation and it never came up. To be honest, I wouldn’t have even said that I had anything wrong with me because I wasn’t being faced with the pressure of pregnancy. But, I couldn’t handle kids, especially babies. If anyone brought new babies into work for the usual “here’s my new baby” drop-in session, I would run a mile. Someone tried to hand their baby over to me once and I freaked. I had to escape to the toilet and cry. I had no idea why though. I was in a group of friends that weren’t into babies and I had no family pressure to have babies so I was able to avoid the whole baby thing quite easily to the point that as far as I was concerned I didn’t have a problem. If you’d asked me back then if I had tokophobia I would have said no. That changed, the minute I discovered that I was pregnant. Then I FREAKED!! The first month of my first unplanned pregnancy was pretty dark. Adjusting to my newfound pregnant status was hard for me and my emotions were all over the place; all shades of negative. When I miscarried at 8 weeks I was relieved. I was gutted and numb with loss, but I was relieved too. That bit scared me and made me realise that something wasn’t right. It was then that I really started tackling my own head trash. If you’re a regular listener of my podcast, you’ll know that I also have another podcast called The Head Trash Show which helps you to clear your head trash using a powerful new therapeutic technique that I’ve simplified so that anyone can use it without being trained in it. I had just trained in that therapy for my work, but I knew that the first thing I had to do was to start with the inside of my head. I made great progress on my general level of anxiety, but when the time for be to become pregnant again a year later, I still had a huge level of fear around being pregnant. The whole idea of it still completely freaked me out. I couldn’t read about birth without crying… for no reason… In my pregnancy books, I couldn’t even open the pages where it showed pictures of the birth canal. I did it once and felt a panic attack rising so I shut the book…


The role of health care professionals
Now, there are some troubling aspects to this fear, because some of them are driven by how women perceive they will be treated by doctors and medical staff. For example, “I can’t imagine being so helpless and having strangers looking at my genitals and touching me like a steak, like I’m not there. It’s like you’re not a person anymore. I’m also scared that if I lost consciousness during pregnancy and something something was wrong with me then there’s a possibility that some doctor would decide to “sacrifice” me to save the foetus.” “Our ‘modern’ birth process, where you are treated as a piece of meat, where hospital workers can do to you whatever they want. Women being forced to give birth laying on their backs. For me this is torturing and the only worst position could be handstand! ….. I also have difficulties dealing with the fact that most intimate part of the body is so highly exposed to unknown people in the delivery room, especially especially men.” This aspect of this fear is quite depressing for me, because this is something that can be helped. How women are treated within medical environments is perpetuating this fear and if health care professionals acted more mindfully and realised how their behaviour affects women in their care, then we could go a long way in reducing these kinds of fears in women. 

Pregnancy Ladies / Author & Editor

Stress-Free Pregnancy and a Fear-Free Childbirth

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