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Thursday
Nov242011

Tokophobia Comment

This came across the wires today, a comment to my very old post entitled "Helen Mirren & Tokophobia" (October 31, 2007). Tokophobia is the fear of childbirth.

It's good to hear the voices of other women, especially when they speak of things so out of our realm of reality it's shocking to realize they even walk beside us on the earth. This woman's words are so foreign to me, I can barely relate to her expressions of fear and hate. But, she's speaking about birth, so I am listening to her with an open heart... which goes out to her completely.

M says:

I've had tokophobia for years. But i stumbled upon this article just days ago. I'm 24 now. I've always kept it to myself, cause in my society if people knew, i would be shunned. The idea here is... as a woman, God intended chilbirth to be very very excrutiatingly painful as a punishment, and it is something we have to endure... if we don't, we are less of a woman.

I've had horrid nightmares, some where i have been in labour, screaming in agony, tearing, bleeding, defecating, my vagina being ripped to pieces... and so on. And some where i could see or hear screams of other women giving birth.

I can't even bear being around pregnant women, it sickens me to death. If people talk about anything to do with the whole birthing experience, i have to walk out, or i would throw up.

I cry every night because of my fears. And i cry myself to sleep. Even though i myself am not going through it yet, i feel such enormous pity for millions of women who have to. And thinking about how cruel nature is makes me want to commit suicide. I have contemplated it many times already.

I realised something was really wrong a few years into my phobia, and confided in a very close friend of mine. But she just dismissed my fears, saying i have to bucker up and be a woman, endure what has to be endured, as nature intended.

Don't know why many people are sympathetic of other phobias, when something so dreadful is just not accepted.

I wish everyday i was a man, they have to go through not an ounce of pain, just pleasure to have a baby. U ask any man and he will tell u that one of the main reasons he is proud to be male is this.

I fell and continue to fall deeper and deeper into depression.

And also let me say, what is the point of a mother going through such terror, when a child ultimately loves u for how u treat them as kids, teenagers, and adults.

I've started falling really ill because of my mental trauma. I have a very high fever as i write this.

But i finally feel like there are others out there. Its some sort of comfort. And i THANKYOU, the author and all you readers for your comments.

People talk about curing this phobia. And yes initially even i hoped and prayed i would get cured. It just got worse.

But the truth is Most people dont want to accept it. The say... just face your fear and go through with it. It's like they Want u to suffer... as women should. Rather than easing the pain.

We are such a tehnologically advanced species. And yet (as someone said earlier) childbirth is so primitive, disgusting and unevolved. If it were any other disease, a wound or ailment, painkillers are given, and the patient's needs are of high importance. And yet when it comes to childbirth, people feel it has to be as painful as possible... and no one cares about the mother who's going through, what i can describe as worse than burning in hell... everyone just cares about the stupid baby, who doesn't even have the slightest idea of what is going on.  (again as someone mentioned in a comment). It is very misogynistic and makes absolutely no sense to me.

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    NFL is actually 1 of the largest sports in America. It has a major following.

Reader Comments (19)

For years, one of the attendings at the hospital where I worked was renowned for the huge amount of IV analgesia he gave his patients. It was jokingly suggested that he met his patient at the door with a syringe and only later determined that she was in labor. He was, necessarily, a whiz at resuscitating newborns who were invariably very depressed.

But, over time, since most women choose a doctor based on word of mouth recommendation, it was obvious that he had a very high percentage of women who had a pathologic and extreme fear of childbirth. Without the reassurance that they'd feel nothing, would literally wake up with a baby with no memory of labor at all, they would never have gotten pregnant, or even refused to have sexual relations with their husbands, for fear of the "consequences". We think of this as bizarre, and in a way, it is. But these women needed a doctor like him. Therapy takes a very long time, and isn't always successful. Sometimes, this is the only way.

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAntigonos

I am the original poster. If I had a doctor like that I would have had a baby. Since I didnt, and since so many people abused me for having this phobia, I never had a baby. I endured TWO lost relationships, suffered angry family members and now I am 50 and alone.

I was never diagnosed with OCD. I am just repulsed by childbirth. It disgusts me and I deserve better. I totally understand the comments above. Medication, education and therapy wont solve the problem. Ive come to the conclusion that I should have paid a surrogate or adopted.

But there is no cure for this illness. We just need acceptance, and we need to be excused from pregnancy and childbirth without criticism or abuse.

December 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIAmTheOriginalPoster

I am very religious and active in my church, and I find it sad that the misconception is still around that God made childbirth as painful as possible as a punishment to women. God is not like that. I have given birth to two children, both without pain medication, and my labors were some of the times when I have felt God's love the strongest. (I know you don't share my religious beliefs, NgM, but I hope you don't mind me sharing that.)

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I had some fear about giving birth, but after educating myself about the process I realized that it was not like what I had always thought (thanks, Hollywood . . . not!). I thought you were pushing the entire time you were in labor, and I thought that you were in constant pain, sharp and intense, the entire time. When I realized that the pain comes in contractions, with a break in between, I started to think that it was actually do-able. Yes, it was very painful, but I never felt like I was suffering or being tortured.

Unfortunately, I imagine that for many who suffer from tokophobia, learning more about birth might just augment the problem. My heart goes out to those women who deal with this. It's difficult for me to even wrap my mind around being that afraid of giving birth, but obviously it's a reality for some people, through no fault of their own.

December 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Anon.

I absolutely do NOT mind you sharing, Anon! It helps tremendously to let others know they aren't alone. Thank goodness there are many styles of us so we can touch others' lives in different ways. Thanks for responding.

December 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Hugs to this poster! What an awful perception of what birth is! I feel sad for the torment you have endured with this fear.

Your situation is exactly why I, as a proponent of natural childbirth, believe that women *SHOULD* be able to elect to have a cesarean section for no "physical" reason. Because I believe that a woman is not just a physical creature, but also mental, spiritual and emotional; and retaining health in those areas is every bit as important as physical health.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKnitted to the Womb

I, too, would like to express my love towards this woman who obviously has suffered immensely over this phobia.

I haven't suffered from this phobia but I would just like to say that it doesn't have to be the torture or hell that you have so long believed. I do wish there were/had been other options at the time when you were in a position to have a child(ren).

I gave birth to a very large baby without any drugs, I have also experienced shingles and sciatica both of which are 2 to 4x's as painful as childbirth, for me, at least. I loved being pregnant and felt blessed throughout my pregnancy and labor... even during pushing/crowning I would not say that my pain level ever rose above a 5 or 6 on a scale of 0-10 though sciatica would rate as a 14 on that same scale (I'd actually have adjust my measurement of my original assessment of pain for pushing to a 2 or 3 just to get sciatica on the same scale). I hope this helps you in some small way or maybe helps you to know that not all of us think your issue should be dismissed and if you run into another with your phobia perhaps this comment will serve as a tool for them as well.
*hugs*

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy B

I'm new to this blog. I can't even remember what I searched, but I ended up on this site about 6 hours ago. I've read over 30 blog posts tonight. I've felt compelled to comment on a few, although they were mostly older ones so I find it unnecessary to add to a long ago discussion:)

This one however, tugged at my heart strings. I read the Helen Mirren blog post, all the comments, and the initial blog post on this as well.

My first thought with what "M" has said is that I've been that nasty friend before. I grew up knowing that I was here to have children. I knew as a teenager that I wanted my children to be born naturally, with very little intervention, and if at all possible, without pain medication. As a teen I knew exactly what came with birth - everything from incontinence to defecating to 4th degree tears. I was well informed of all the fun and not so fun things that come with pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum times. I remember feeling a high about the subject and the thought that someone could NOT want this for themselves was totally ridiculous. Complete hypocrisy as far as I'm concerned as I've dealt with panic and anxiety disorders as far back as I remember (still have nightmares I had when I was 3-4 years old). But no no, how could it be possible to be afraid of such a wonderful thing?

I remember when my best friend/cousin confided in me that she didn't want to ever have children. I'm sure my faced scrunched up and I'm sure I gasped in shock. I'm sure I said some pretty mean and completely non supportive things. I am feeling so guilty right now. I won't deny that it still doesn't throw a wrench into me hearing things like this. I've had 2 children, both of whom were born vaginally, but with epidurals, forceps, vacuums, 3rd degree tears, and 3rd degree episiotomies. My second I ended up with Pelvic Girdle Pain (or SPD) which rendered me immobile for the last 3 months of my pregnancy and led to what I would consider being a 20+ on my pain scale after delivery (my first labor where I did feel it right through to birth thanks to a broken epidural machine was only a 5 or a 6 on my pain scale). Both labor and deliveries were so traumatic, I swore I would never have more. I have to laugh as I sit here 15 weeks pregnant with #3 and already am cursed with PGP/SPD. The difference? This time I have a team of midwifes and will be having this one at a hospital that is ranked #1 in the southern part of our province as far as places to give birth. Takes so much of the "fear" out of it! But, I'm still sitting here glowing and smiling ear to ear. I'm so happy to meet this little bean and I'm even happily anticipating this delivery! To think that someone could be paralyzed by fear from this part of life makes me scratch my head, but then I read what *I* wrote and remember from my own pregnancies and deliveries and BOOM. I get the fear.

My much more mature response is WHY do these women need to be cured? Why do they need to feel ostracized? I know that teenage, pre-parent me didn't help. I don't think that giving birth is our sole job as women. Am I happy to do it? Of course, but not everyone is doctors, or nurses, or even miners. Everyone has their own jobs, and why can't that be the case when bringing kids in to the world? Why is there SUCH a push about genetics? If a person doesn't want to be a parent at all - not just giving birth, but not adopting etc - why is that a problem? Yes, those of us who do it, it makes us SO happy and we naturally want to share that happiness and that "high" that we get from it. But why can't we accept that there are those who don't want it? What about the people who don't want to give birth, but would rather adopt or have a surrogate? What makes them less of a person or a parent or even a WOMAN for that matter? We have lived in a world where there are many things causing "population control". Things like disease, natural disasters, birth control etc. Those things are awful, but are touted that without things like that, our world would be heavily overpopulated and it would be a much more difficult life, if there was any life at all. So WHY do we feel the need to be mortified by someone saying they don't want children or don't want to give birth? Why can't we support, move on and remain friends? Their decisions and fears don't affect us directly, so why does it matter? I know that I would be sad to not be a Grandmother (as I'm really looking forward to it), but if my children were petrified of it, I could never let my feelings come first. Would I ask if they felt comfortable with adoption or surrogacy? Of course. But I would accept and understand the answer I received and would support regardless. After all, I am raising my babies. They have my number one priority now, and they will years down the road too. Until I actually have grandchildren, I actually don't have any. So there is nothing to grieve.

I applaud those of you who have come forward and talked about your fears and phobias openly, even at the fear of judgment. I do hope that as our species evolve, that there are things to help those that do want to have children but psychologically can't - like easier access to adoption and surrogacy or even elective c-sections - and those that just don't want to be parents, I do hope that you find your niche in this world, and not just amongst others like yourselves. I do hope that your fears don't limit those who you interact with and that one day there isn't an actual phobia dedicated to you. That you just are regular women who have made your own liberating choices!

And NGM, thank you so much for this blog! I am not a midwife or a doula, but someone who strongly backs both and am pushing for more of a presence in our province. I can't wait to read even more!!!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

I understand how everyone tries to talk positively about birth so as to calm my fear. But it just doesn't happen. For nearly 10yrs now I have tried to cure myself. But the more I read/look up stuff about childbirth, the more I end up being gripped by extreme terror.

For some reason I feel I have the worse form of this phobia.

Not only am I mortally afraid of giving birth, but I cannot even come to terms with the millions of women going through it now. Nor can I watch movies, tv shows where a woman is pregnant or giving birth..or someone announcing a pregnancy..
I cannot even bear anyone uttering a word about it. Not can I stand to look at one picture of a pregnant woman, let alone if her face is contorted with pain.
And its extremely difficult to avoid all of this in the world today. Its EVERYWHERE!!

All those things, depending how graphic, send a bad electric current through my body and leave me shivering and filled with terror.. Sometimes I have to lock myself up in the bathroom and cry.
Why me? Why do I feel like this? :(:(
People ask me why I am sick all the time., why I get fevers all the time. I have gotten so many health tests done. no MaJor life threatening problem, but Yes I have many health issues for being so young. I know its my fear at the bottom of it all. Cause its with me every minute of the day.

U see what I mean when I say my fear is waaay too extreme!
Even birthdays upset me. (And lately, christmas. I know that's a shocker) Cause its like celebrating the agony that comes with the birth of a baby. Why on earth would one celebrate such agonising pain?
There was a story that just came up on the news about a woman who died giving birth to twins on her own.
Just reading the headline filled me with terror and brought me to tears. I feel dying in childbirth is worse than dying of cancer and worse than being crucified.
But surviving after such trama and then living the rest of your life with memories of the ordeal is probably worse.

I can never hold on to relationships...(And though I consider myself a very sexual person) I haven't had sex, for fear of the possible "consequences". I always end a relationship before it gets to that.
Just a few days ago I was talking to a man I had been seeing for a few weeks before. And he talked about how he had kidney stones and how painful they are. And He said, roughly I quote, "that's the worst kind of pain a man can go through. Its like giving birth, except there's no beautiful baby at the end of it."
And that was enough to drive me mentally insane and hang up.
Logically speaking, he said Nothing wrong. But that's what I mean, I cannot digest anything about the topic...even if so insignificant.

I kept thinking , how could he even compare the two. Childbirth is a million times worse, and I'd rather be a man and have 10kidney stones than give birth to even 1 baby!
I am not with him anymore , only because I would get depressed or upset or lash out for reasons he couldn't understand.
And I Don't think I want a long lasting relationship with a man for fear that he will want kids someday.

My family Is very religious. And I am being forced to get married. Arranged marriages are big here. But I am doing my best to fight it. If I am ultimately forced into it, I will do all that I can to avoid getting pregnant..or terminate it if I do. Maybe even annoy my husband so much that he hopefully leaves me.

And I plan to tell people that I could never have children due to physical problems, cause its not acceptable for a woman NOT to want kids.

But there is a chance that I may not succeed in avoiding pregnancy, and it scares me to death (and That's an understatement).

I want to leave this country and go somewhere where I am independent, and can live my life the way I want to...without society telling me what to do.
But that just doesn't seem possible.

I wish I had a friend here to talk to. Someone who shares my feelings..someone who understands. Unfortunately no one I know seems to understand.
Most of my friends are very religious and believe a woman's sole job on earth is to reproduce.

Counselling is just not possible for me to hide from my parents, and my society, plus I'd have to spend ridiculous amounts of money.
I feel i am waaay too into my phobia for me to ever get fully cured through counselling and have a child naturally. Its impossible to me.
I agree with an earlier comment saying Education or therapy won't help, Only acceptance would...without abuse, criticism.
But society doesn't accept it.

That being said, I DO want and hope to be cured of these petty things that I've mentioned that depress the hell outta me.
I want to be happy.

I know after all I have said, that I come across as a selfish, cold, irrational and pessimistic person..
And I can't imagine how ridiculed and judged I'd be, if I came out with this to the real world.
If u see me walk down the road, or even get to know me as a friend, I am like any other person, but only I know the torment I am going through.

I wish I could cease to feel this way.
I have tried, believe me I've tried to be "normal" , but I just can't..
I feel Rotten, unworthy and a failure.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterM

M. I read your comment and I just wanted to say that I *get* it. I may not get your exact phobia/fear, but I get what having a paralyzing fear is all about. I am *irrationally* afraid (to the point of high anxiety and panic) of spiders, dark bathrooms, falling (even from the bottom step), tornadoes, and death. That last one? I've grappled with my entire life. I remember being as young as 4 and being terrified. I remember I was afraid of death for myself, and others. My grandmother was the worst. When I would spend the night at her house, I didn't sleep. Yes. At 4 years old. She would go to bed and I would just lay awake on the couch trying to strain to hear a movement or a breath or SOMETHING. If I couldn't hear anything I remember just standing in her doorway until my eyes adjusted to the complete darkness just to see if her chest was moving. My fear has never gotten better. Only worse. In fact I will be quite honest with you that the last 3 months of both of my pregnancies, and beyond, I have had to deal with night terrors. I have SUCH vivid dreams of all the millions of ways my children can die. It's grousome, it's awful, it's so disturbing. It seems to be all that preoccupies my brain.

My thoughts, if you don't mind me, are what if because of the enormous pressure you have on you from society, family, religion, friends to be "normal" is what is making your phobia so extreme? If you were just accepted as is, do you think you would be better? Do you think that the fear wouldn't hinder your social abilities to have pregnant friends, or watch a movie? If the answer is that it is possible, then the problem doesn't lie in YOU needing help. But in the rest of the world needing to take a giant chill pill and begin to accept.

From the sounds of it from what you have said, you sound like you live a life where you are never in control. I am a *very* controling person. I hate feeling out of control. I had a very hard life growing up so I recognize that's likely why I need to feel in control of every little thing now. I mean, it could be why I have my fears. I have no control over any of it.

Anyways, in short, I feel like YOU do not need to be fixed. Unless you did genuinely want to have your "own" children, there is NOTHING wrong with you. I believe that if you feel or are forced to feel like you are abnormal that your phobia is going to get worse. That I would hate seeing for anyone. No one should have to live a crappy life, immobilized by their fear. I bet you are an absolutely wonderful person, who could be the life of any party, and who deserves the greatest husband ever:)

Although I'm in Canada, I am here, telling you that I understand, that I think you are normal, and most importantly, I accept you for you! I hope more people can join behind me and stand up and say/show the same thing, so that you are able to heal and move forward in your life. I truly hope that one day you are okay to hear about all the things you fear, at which time, I'd be more than willing to call you a "friend". Not that I couldn't be now, but I also know that my life right now would make you feel uncomfortable, and I couldn't do that to you! :)

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

Crystal, thankyou for accepting the way i am. I dont think you will ever understand me fully, but it is nice of you to try.

Before i say any more, i have to share this.... just last night I had another nightmare. And i have many of these. I was walking through a maternity ward and I could hear screams... screams of terror, some of women screaming things like 'I wanna die, I wanna die, I can't bear this pain, kill me.'
I was horrified.. I started panting and gasping.. My eyes swelled up, and I started running hoping to get out of this "torture chamber", and I with shivers in my voice i kept crying out "why why are these women being punished, why are they being tortured?"

I fail to understand how in reality people can hear women in agony like this and be "happy" for them (cause of the upcoming baby) rather than be terrified!
It seems so INHUMAN to me. People just care about the baby, (who isn't in pain or even conscious of what's happening) and they don't give a shit about the torture the woman is going through.

You are right when u say that my society, religion, family is making my phobia extreme. But i also know that subtracting these things wouldn't make my fear go away completely, it would just make life a little less painful and 'live'able'.
I do believe i live in a situation where i am unable to make decisions of my own and lead my life the way i want to. But i see no way to get out of it. I wish i lived in Canada , like u ... Sigh.

I hope to one day be "ok" with having pregnant friends, or watching or talking about stuff related to it. But i see that as being possible only after i am old, and definitely unable to conceive. But by then i may be alone, with my family hating me for never having had children.

The problem is... yes i do want children...but not if i have to go through pregnancy and childbirth. If i was a man, i would have had even 10!! if my wife was happy to have them.

But I dont like babies anymore...cause they trigger my phobia symptoms. I am ok with children above the age of..say 7-8.
The funny thing is.. i used to be so great with kids of all ages before this fear kicked in. I would play with them, laugh with them, baby-talk, carry them... all up until after puberty when my fear became extreme. Now i cannot do all those things. I have to pretend...or i come across as cold and heartless.
People see a cute baby and go "awwwwww". And i go "oh my god, i pity the mother..i need to get the hell out of here" and i get currents of fear running through my body.

Yes i want acceptance...not just me, but for the thousands like me. The problem with the world today is that people judge, mock, criticize women like me... and everyday i come across this.
Just now i read another article about tokophobia where a grandmother reacted disdainfully on being told that the number of C-sections have increased. Women turning on women! Why judge others like that. If u want things a certain way, Do it your way.. but dont ridicule and judge others for not doing it the way u want it!
Things like these make me more depressed.

Its so funny that again, i am running a fever...and get mild asthma attacks. I am ill so often, and my job is in jeopardy cause i keep taking days off.
I cant concentrate on anything. I feel so lost.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterM

M: How many labor wards have you been on? I've been in Labor & Delivery thousands of times & have NEVER heard a woman say she thinks she's dying. I have complete compassion for you, but perpetuating this belief that women are in agony does nothing but feed your own phobia... & might be creating some where there might not otherwise have been. Tokophobia is bad enough without the hystrionics. Please stop it.

January 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

NgM, I'm sorry it seems all too over exaggerated to u. I do not mean to offend anyone. But it IS that extreme for me.
I have been to a maternity ward just once. Yes it was nothing like my dream, but i have had countless people in the past talk of horror stories that i cant get out of my mind...even had a mother herself saying "she was in agony".

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterM

M, don't worry you're not alone! I have the same problem too, not to the complete extent but I also feel out of place. I look at pregnant women, women giving birth or breast feeding, and I just want to tear my skin off or just leave my body.

The thought of a room full of doctors staring intently at my vagina while I void my bowels and urinate all over myself makes me feel like less of a person. More of a cow, or some kind of animal that's only purpose is to breed. I feel like pregnancy takes away my humanity, my personhood.

The only way I can describe newborns as is disgusting. I feel bad, I know the baby is a person too and it probably doesn't want to be viewed that way but the thought of some toothless infant desperately trying to use me as some form of food makes me sick.

Then I realized that there are little baby steps a person can take in life to get through things. For me, I told myself that if I got pregnant I can avoid the breastfeeding issue with formula, I know its not the same and people will probably chastise me for it, but as long as my child sees that I'm happy I think that would be better for bonding than me being repulsed.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to walk myself through child birth or pregnancy. I'm working on it though. I'm young so I have some time. But there is always the option that you can marry a man who also dosn't want kids. And yes! they do exist! If a man loves you enough and you are up front with him, he will stay with you! It is true. You have to be honest though, don't let it come up too late.

Until recently have just assumed I was a cold uncaring person, my sister would make fun of me for being "a bitch", much like my friends who just assumed it was a character trait. And up until I found out that Tokophobia exists I believed them.

Once I read what Tokophobia is it suddenly dawned on me where it came from. My mother is a midwife and she used to teach lessons for classes. She would review childbirth videos in our living room while I was there. She thought it was educational I'm sure, but I was only 5-6 at the time and it was damaging.

I know my post isn't helpful to solve your problem, but maybe you can just live with it? Or find alternate routes. Sometimes the beauty in life is that you have to live it differently than others. If you want children you can have them! You can adopt. If you don't have a husband that wants to adopt, go find one. There is an old proverb: "All roads lead to Rome" it means that many paths can lead to the same goal.

M, you can be happy the way you are. You have a different unique destiny than most women but you are not alone. : )

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE

I have no idea why you think this is bizarre, I think it is perfectly natural to feel this way. I have always had an extreme fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Men have it so easy, why can't they go through this hell. Instead they get the glory. It's completly ridiculous.

I also think babies are ugly, I don't understand what the fuss is about at ALL.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterd

I am one of the original posters for the Helen Mirren information. I check back now and again, and I am always so sad for the folks who are having problems with tokophobia. Let me give you some support, M.

I am now over 50 years old, single and childless. I was never able to get over the phobia; I actually still deal with it on one level but thankfully now I am menopausal. I too have had more than one woman tell me that childbirth was so bad she thought she was going to die--and yes NGM, they used the word DIE--and I had one friend who had an abortion rather than go through childbirth again. I even had a friend tell me it wasn't worth it, but she doesn't like being a mother, either.

I did have a friend who is tokophobic who had a csection under a general, and she loved it. But they are hard to get--her husband is wildly wealthy, and he arranged the procedure discreetly while on the golf course with a prominent OBGYN who was paid cash. I can't afford that, so I didn't have any children.

There is life without children. Make up excuses--nurture the bitch image. People think I hate children; that's not true, but I used the bitch image and it helped to deflect some of the abuse you will get from family members who want grandchildren.

Also, try to find a man who doesn't want children. It's tough to do sometimes, though. I lost two potential marriages over my inability to handle pregnancy and childbirth, and now I am alone. It was heartbreaking, but the alternative was suicide so I walked away from the relationships. But yes, I did have a broken heart twice--this is a vicious phobia. I stopped dating for awhile, and then I ended up with an addict, which I think was a way to avoid dealing with the issue since he was too addicted to pursue marriage. I am now old enough to date again since I am menopausal.

If you really want to have a child in your life, just go ahead and adopt. I should have tried that, but I didn't have enough money. Don't discuss the adoption with family members, either--if you can get your husband or partner to agree, just do it and then tell them after the fact. At that point, you will have a baby and they will have a grandchild. If that is not enough, tough for them. DO NOT LET ANYONE BULLY YOU.

Above all, don't let anyone force you into a pregnancy. I have been to that mountain, and it just ends up in a termination. If I could not have had an abortion it would have meant suicide. I personally know a woman who has had four abortions because she can't get over this phobia. That would have been me had I been pregnant.

You deserve better than to have your body destroyed or your mental health permanently impacted to give somebody a child or a family member a grandchild. Stand your ground. Do what is right for you. This is a vicious phobia, and I was never able to even get close to overcoming it. People are nasty and mean about it, too. Some women want you to suffer because they had to suffer. Fight back; don't take abuse.

II am not OCD, so I don't know where that theory started, but I have always been violently disgusted by pregnancy and pregnant women. They make my skin crawl. I know how you feel. I have been this way since I was 12 years old, and it has never gotten any better.

Good luck!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Anon: Thank you for your follow-up. I'm going to make your comment a blog post on its own because I think it's a really important message for those who live with tokophobia every day. Thank you so much for checking in over the years. I hope you've found some peace as the years have passed. I'm sure being in menopause has helped in some ways at least, right?

Thanks again.

April 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I am nearly in tears as I read the poster's story regarding her tokophobia, because I can agree with every single point that she said.

I am in my early 20's, married, and contemplating never having children biologically because of this issue. I have been diagnosed with severe OCD, which I learned to control without medication. However, this "branch" of my severe OCD, tokophobia, is one I fear that I will never overcome.

In my experience, the people around you, particularly your parents, your OB/GYN, and friends that are new mothers have little to no sympathy or understanding. They believe that you are simply being a "drama queen" or that you're "overreacting". I have been afraid of childbirth long before I was ever sexually active (and no, I was not sexual abused, and I had a very good, happy childhood). Even my own doctor has little to no understanding, and cannot contemplate why I use 3 methods of birth control every time I have sex. Even being around pregnant women sends me into a panic attack, it is my body's involuntary response, as if it's been written into my DNA. Baby showers are a nightmare for me.

I often wonder if my primary tokophobia began when I heard the story of my own birth. My poor mother was not given an episiotomy and she literally tore from one end of herself to the other. I realize that this does not happen often, or with every case, but it only adds to my phobia.

I got married last year, and could not go a mere ten minutes without someone asking "when is the baby coming?" or "time to give me a grandchild/niece/nephew, etc.". For most people, this is an expected question to be laughed. For those with debilitating tokophobia, it can bring you nearly to tears.

It is nice to see articles on this disease are being brought to attention, as it is a serious problem, not something to be "shrugged off" and told to "get over". Thank you for sharing this, it's comforting to know I'm not the only one out here with this issue.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I used to have tokophbia BIGTIME growing up, but the moment I met my husband, it literally disappeared. But I guess it had to do with the fact that I was somewhat OCD back then as well...

I compared it to having a massive turkey pulled through your nose! Cause think about it, the size difference, it could as well be, hey? LOL. But the moment I met the right man, whom I knew would be the father of my children, it just went away, and I wanted nothing else then to do it naturally.

Also, thinking that having a ceaser is less-painful then having natural birth is a bit overrated, imho. If people are really afraid of the pain issue, they CAn and should opt for an epidural or other form of pain-relieve during birth.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMari

Dear NGM--Just wanted to thank you for keeping the thread going. I am the original anonymous. Menopause has helped, and it may help your patients who are suffering with this phobia. I don't know anything about the OCD--I was diagnosed with depression but never OCD--but I do know that we need a better solution for sufferers of this phobia. Jessica's post above is excellent. She nails it on the head regarding the way people treat those of us with this phobia. We need an advocate that just allows us to have a csection under a general and not breast feed. I would give anything to be this advocate, but I can't just yet. Have to wait a bit yet for the dust to settle in my own relationships.

Just keep us away from the experience and give us the baby afterwards, no memory of any of it. Otherwise, we get to spend our reproductive years being abused by people who just don't get it, and that leaves for some nasty relationships and angry people. Please continue to post on this topic for younger women so they don't have to suffer as I did, and please advocate for a completely sterile solution so we don't have to go childless. I know life is not fair, but being abused by a phobia is bad enough--we don't need more abuse from smart-mouthed know-nothings as well. Keep up the good work! Great site!

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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