Forgive me, my Empowered friends. I felt this post was important to share here lest someone search "tokophobia" and actually stumble upon a different view than the medical belief... that I believe it is a wholesale cultural brainwashing.
And, for the women with tokophobia... TURN THE TV OFF! Birth shows on tv are part and parcel of the tokophobia phenomenon! It isn't making up for the lack of tribal birthing we once experienced, it is edited and dramatized and is the epitome of the worst that birth can be in this culture.
A woman writes of her fear of birth (she actually called it BIRTH PHOBIA) and her joining a list I am on. She says, after a brief time on the list, that she is more afraid than ever... and that surprises her. This is my response:
What is it about birth that scares you? Pain? Possible death? A disabled/deformed child? The cost in raising them? That you will be a wimp? That you won't be able to make any decisions about what happens to you? That you will be touched in ways you don't want to be touched?
And let's move now to... what is it in particular about this group's posts that are making those fears worse?
I encourage seeing things in context. If you were sitting on a regular old pregnancy board, THEN I would see why you might be terrified - women having vaginal exams at the whim of the doctor or midwife, the morphine at 2 cm dilated, the 8 inch needle in the spine that numbs mom from nipples down, cuts to the vagina as a regular course of events, pulling the baby out with a vacuum or forceps... or the ever-gory, but popular cesarean descriptions.
Women here speak of what happened to them and how they intend to not allow that to happen to them again. THAT is empowerment. You, I suspect, are here like many not-yet-pregnant or newly-pregnant-for-the-first-time women who don't want the Birth Story From Hell to tell at baby showers, but a birth that makes your knees weak with pride and tears spring to your eyeballs as you remember your strength, your toughness, your amazing ability to allow your body to work its miracle - with or without your conscious help.
This group is not therapy, but it is therapeutic. Listening in is good and many, especially pregnant and nursing mamas (the majority here, by far) do not or cannot listen to horror stories over and over, but if you have specifics, by all means, name them and let's shine the light on them so we can dispell them or nod and say, "ayup, that one's for real." We just ask that you put something in the subject line that denotes, for example: "SPOILER - newborn fears" or "SPOILER - my vagina" so women can make a choice to read or skip.
Listening behind the words is important, too. A woman writing about the 23 hour labor that was exhausting and how she pushed for 4 hours and how her veins popped out of her neck and the baby mooshed out of her and it was SUCH a humongous sensation she couldn't believe a baby could come out of her ass, but that the baby smells amazing! that her life as it is now is better than she ever imagined! that her love for her partner, her child, and her Self is beyond belief in its enormity. She isn't telling a horror story. She is telling HER love story. She speaks her Truth and how wonderful she is that she watched the wall of fire and walked through it, even though it was hard and painful and long. She did it!
And that doesn't include, of course, the stories you haven't read yet of women who have delicious, yummy, juicy births that include lovemaking, orgasms, slow-gentle sliding out of babies from vaginas and the transformation those births inspire.
Or the women who make the decision (or the baby that makes the decision) to transfer to the hospital and who might end up with medications, an epidural, an episiotomy, forceps or a cesarean... and how beautiful that birth was, too... because she *knew*... she knew what to do because of these women around us who have shared what they would do differently if they had a chance to do it all again.
For a woman with tokophobia, I hope you stay around. Name your fears and remind yourself to remain open to the *tone* of the birth stories, the rememberence that many women ONLY type on the Net when they have difficulties or pain and need help, and that you will find a place of healing in your heart. Enough to someday have a baby if you want to.
If we all lived in tribes. No one would be afraid of birth. Afraid of lions and bears, sure, but birth? It would be as natural as going to the river for water. Did they see mothers and babies die and mourn over it? Sure they did, but, they also knew more acutely than we tend to that death is as sure as birth; by being conceived, we all agree to die.
I look forward to this dialogue. And one last note. You are sooooooooo not alone in your fears. It isn't *so* common here (or at least the fears are named differently [or named at all]), but I learned the word "tokophobia" recently and how whole studies are being done on it. Very, very hard for me, a midwife, to grasp that the cultural indoctrination of the horrors of how birth is in today's society and how it is accepted and now, studies and doctors are deciding that the cure for tokophobia is a scheduled cesarean instead of the humanization of birth.
So much work to do... so very much.