Tokophobia is an extreme fear of childbirth. The condition causes some people to take excessive measures to avoid getting pregnant. People who do become pregnant may dread each week of pregnancy instead of enjoying it. With therapy and extra support, this condition can be overcome.
Tokophobia is an extreme fear of childbirth. This condition primarily affects people designated female at birth, but a small number of people designated male at birth also experience it. Tokophobia is a specific phobia that causes fear of a particular situation.
There are two types of tokophobia:
Tokophobia may stem from other fears, including:
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It’s natural to fear things that feel dangerous or uncomfortable. For many people, this includes pregnancy and childbirth. But these thoughts rarely disrupt daily activities.
Phobias cause intense fear that makes you go out of your way to avoid certain situations. You may experience irrational thoughts and behaviors that are difficult to control. In some cases, phobias get in the way of achieving life goals, like having children or expanding your family.
Many people feel anxious about childbirth. Tokophobia causes some people to avoid getting pregnant. People who become pregnant might not feel excited about it and try to hide their growing baby.
There’s no reason to feel embarrassed about tokophobia. And you shouldn’t have to experience these feelings alone. Talking to your healthcare provider can be one of the first steps toward getting relief. Treatment can make being pregnant and planning for childbirth less stressful.
Causes of tokophobia include:
Tokophobia affects your thoughts and behaviors. Many people with tokophobia suffer from depression. They’re are also likely to experience negative outcomes.
Fear of pregnancy may cause you to:
People who have an extreme fear of giving birth are more likely to:
Tokophobia is often diagnosed during healthcare provider visits for other reasons.
A common tokophobia treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Undergoing CBT helps you identify the aspects of childbirth that are fueling the phobia. You can also learn healthy coping methods by working with a mental health professional.
Additional methods for overcoming tokophobia may include:
While tokophobia can’t be prevented, there are several ways you can reduce its influence on your life. It’s natural to be fearful about childbirth. But this doesn’t have to hold you back from starting or expanding your family. If you feel anxious, it’s never too early to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.
You may also wish to shut out stories of other people’s negative childbirth experiences. Just because things don’t go as planned for other people doesn't mean the same will happen to you.
With successful treatment, anticipating childbirth is less likely to feel overwhelming. You may still have anxiety about it. But knowing how to calm your mind prevents these feelings from escalating.
Having a support network can make it easier to cope with tokophobia. Identify friends and loved ones who are a positive influence in your life. These people may or may not have experienced pregnancy. But you can count on them for kind words and encouragement.
You can also learn more about childbirth by:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tokophobia is an extreme fear of childbirth. It’s natural to be anxious about the many unknowns that come with delivering a baby. But you shouldn’t let this hold you back from starting or expanding your family. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. There are many methods for overcoming this fear. Doing so can help you appreciate the joys of pregnancy and welcoming a new baby.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2022.
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