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Entries in fear of childbirth (2)


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.


Tokophobia Comment

This comment came in today, responding to my Tokophobia - Fear of Childbirth post I wrote March 5, 2005. If you look at the comments, you'll see the steady stream of women who've found their way to the post (I really should update it!) over the last 6 years. I thought this woman's thoughts deserved a post of its own.

"While I know that this is an older post, I still feel as though I have to say something. When I read the blog post itself, I felt the frustration that I often feel as a tokophobic woman: people simply don’t understand. This isn’t just a fear of pain; it’s a crippling fear that ruins lives. 

Genuine tokophobia – and I recognize that there are likely different “levels” of the phobia – forces women to end loving relationships with men they adore, to lie to everyone they know and care about every single day of their lives, and to feel absolute shame, guilt, and isolation (after all, even farm animals can do this, so why can’t we?). 

I was mocked and dismissed as “silly” and “weak” during my younger years, and then lied for years after that, saying that I didn’t want children at all. Now, married to a wonderful man who respects my own agency over my body (but divorced from a previous marriage), we are knee-deep in the adoption process and ever-so-excited about bringing our children home. 

I don’t want to get in to the gory details of why I’m afraid. Let me just say that my primary tokophobia can’t be traced to any single event in my childhood or adolescence. It’s just always been there. 

When my husband and I realized how challenging the adoption process is, I seriously considered trying to “get over” my fears, and so I began to educate myself on pregnancy and childbirth. The result? I fainted in my kitchen. I was fine with the pregnancy bit, not thrilled, but it felt doable. When I got to reading about childbirth, however, I was standing in my kitchen fixing a cup of tea, and I hit the floor. I knew then and there that my hunch was true for me: this was not something that I could just “get over”. 

So, now, we are wrapping up our homestudy, and are the excitedly expectant parents of a little boy, and hopefully a little girl as well in a couple of years or less. If nothing else, I hope that this comment/story illustrates that tokophobic women DO have other options, and that there ARE men out there who will love and honour us, regardless of how the rest the world makes us feel about ourselves. 

Tokophobia can’t stop me from being a mother, and THAT’S the most empowering thing I can imagine throwing in the face of this condition: it didn’t stop me. Thank you for providing this space for me to share my story."

Dear reader, thank you so very much for sharing your success story! I am thrilled for you. May you and your growing family live in peace and I hope that with the years of angst behind you, you are able to live in that place of empowerment; you conquered tokophobia... on your own terms.