The fear of childbirth. Did you know it even had a name? Well, it does, and that name is Tokophobia. The fear of childbirth is one of the most common fears of women in the world today. In fact, ABC news recently reported that possibly somewhere around one in SIX women have an unusual anxiety or fear of giving birth.
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In 2007, Helen Mirren opened up about her Tokophobia, which she said has been present in her life since she was 13 years old, and saw a video of a woman giving birth. “I swear it traumatized me to this day,” said Mirren, 65. “I haven’t had children and now I can’t look at anything to do with childbirth. It absolutely disgusts me.”
The bottom line is that although this condition isn’t commonly talked about, it is way more common than people would think. There is really no way to tell how many women this condition affects, since it’s not something that women usually talk about, and it is quite possibly something that many women try to hide from family and friends so that they don’t seem “weird” or “broken.”
Doctors say that there are many different experiences that may result in tokophobia. Some cases begin during adolescence, when a woman first begins to learn about childbirth, as was in Helen Mirren’s case. Other times, Tokophobia is brought on by a horrifying experience during a prior pregnancy, labor or delivery, leaving the woman scarred and traumatized after the event. Still other times, Tokophobia can manifest itself as a form of prenatal depression, leaving pregnant women in complete terror about their upcoming delivery.
Since the severity of Tokophobia can vary so greatly between women, the ways to tackle it also vary greatly. Some women are able to overcome their fears through support groups and behavioral therapy. Other women are dealing with a level of Tokophobia so severe that they opt for c-sections under complete anesthesia.
Some women are never able to fully recover from their phobia, and are left with the option of having a baby via surrogate, or adopting, in order to become mothers. For most women with mild to moderate Tokophobia, behavioral therapy can work wonders in helping a woman to become mentally strong enough to give birth.