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.
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.
There is no way for me to address your religious beliefs because I don't share them at all. It makes no sense to me that a benevolent God would wish such evil and cruelty on a woman, but there must be a way for it to make sense to you. My heart breaks that your culture/community believes this because you would certainly be more free to contemplate a different outcome than the excruciating pain of childbirth you've been indoctrinated with all your life if it was gone.
The things I've read about tokophobia over the years include the realization that it is a form of OCD, as all phobias are. There are medications with very few side effects that help relieve the symptoms enough to be able to focus on the cognitive behavioral therapies that make enormous headway in treating the phobias. But, as with all phobias, the desire to overcome the fear must come before treatment.
I pray you are in an environment that you get to choose whether you become a mother or not, that you have a choice in your fertility.
I also want to say, and this is not blowing you off at all, but I have seen exquisitely beautiful births, even a couple of orgasmic births. Now that is what it seems God would create. Birth is, almost universally, painful, but it is not the same kind of pain as breaking a bone or being in an accident. (And I know logic has zero impact, but in case someone else doesn't have the same fears....) The odd and amazing thing about labor is during the contraction, it hurts like crap, but inbetween, you can do jumping jacks or carry on a normal conversation. It's the craziest thing! Also, being out of the bed makes an enormous difference in the pain level of most women. The body is meant to shift and sway in labor, but the Western method of lying in a bed creates much of the pain so many women experience. The hips and baby's head have a "dance" with each other and when the mom is in bed, the dance isn't realized and the pain escalates. If I was induced and in a bed, I would probably want an epidural, too! (When I had Tristan, epidurals weren't an option or I would surely have had one.)
It can be terribly difficult to get help for phobias even in the best of circumstances. It takes resources and a great deal of support, not judgment or humiliation for having the fears. If you feel ready for help, I hope you are able to find and receive it. If you do not want to find a place of peace with the tokophobia, I pray you are able to control your own fertility.
No matter where you go with this, know you aren't alone.