The year 1978 is one of my most vivid childhood memories, as I was born that year and even though I was only an infant at the time, my parents and I lived through many unique and exciting things that were to come. One of the most memorable of these things is that the year 1978 was the only year that I was born into the category of “pregnancy” and “delivery” and not “birth”. A fact that I remember vividly is that “giving birth” is a very powerful and emotional experience for all mothers. During these times, a person must possess a strong support network, a partner that is willing to assist, and a place to give birth. This is not the case for me, as I am scared of the

I went into labour with my twins at 10pm on a Saturday night. I was completely exhausted and had no energy to give them what they needed. I had been breastfeeding them for 9 months (one child was 7 months and the other 3 months) and I had absolutely no idea how to deal with breast feeding so I called a friend to help me bond with them. After 8 hours of labour I was still having a lot of pain. I asked my husband to call my midwife and she said to go to the hospital.

If you have a phobia of childbirth, you know the pain of the worst case scenario, labor pain, but the idea of actually going through labor still terrifies you. You may be one of the many women who have a phobia of childbirth and the idea of being pregnant and going through labor makes you break out in a cold sweat.

I stood there watching while the midwife wrote something in my maternity records.

And there it was, finally, in black and white – my diagnosis and the formal proof of what I had long suspected but kept to myself.

Tokophobia was an intense dread of giving birth that I had. When you’re six months pregnant, this is a major issue. 

Giving birth scared me – the agony, the inability to manage it, the loss of control over your body, and the whole unpredictability of the process all contributed to my fear.

I’d always found it difficult to watch people in movies and on TV give birth. As a kid, teenager, and young adult, I battled with the screams, wails, and terrified expressions on their faces, followed by assurances from women I trusted that ‘it’s much worse in real life.’

The message was that childbirth is a difficult experience. Your water may break at any time and at the most inconvenient of locations. You may not be able to get to the hospital in time and wind up giving birth in a parking lot without any medical assistance. Did we mention that pushing a baby out of your vaginal opening hurts?

When you combine this message with real-life experiences from friends and relatives about botched epidurals or entonox gas-induced vomiting, as well as media articles about birth trauma, you have the foundations for primary tokophobia.

My desire to have a child outweighed my anxiety of giving birth. So I put my dread of giving birth aside, telling myself that it was natural to be frightened or at the very least anxious. The journey of attempting to conceive was filled with health concerns and heartbreak, but we made it at the end of 2016.

I fell into the trap of believing that once I was pregnant, everything would be OK and that some innate instinct would kick in. Isn’t this what women are supposed to be able to accomplish by default? Society tells us that we all want to have children, that we all have a mother instinct, and that birth is something we simply do. Of course, we don’t, we haven’t, and it’s just not that simple.

With just a few weeks before I had to confront it, what could practically be done to rid me of this entrenched fear?

Getting my consultant to consent to a C-section, on the other hand, proved to be a difficult task. I had hoped for a caesarean section to avoid the uncertainties I was so afraid about.

He was hesitant in part because I had previously had two abdominal operations and a caesarean would require cutting into existing scar tissue, raising the chance of problems.

Instead, he convinced me to undergo an induction in the hospital, complete with pharmaceutical comfort as soon as things got going. I had my reservations, but I felt compelled to agree.

Meanwhile, I enrolled in NCT antenatal courses. Although the course instructor was excellent, the topic of labor came up often.

This featured the story of one laboring lady who was so out of it with agony that she was left on all fours in the corner of the delivery room, snarling like a dog at the midwives as she went through transition – the most painful phase of the process when the body prepares for the pushing stage. This dreadful mental picture has stayed with me to this day.

I also learned that two of the four medicines available to pregnant women were not suitable for me owing to a pre-existing medical issue. This just added to my anxiety.

I attended to prenatal yoga courses in another effort to prepare myself for delivery. The teacher was vehemently anti-drug. We were informed that if you shifted your hips in this direction or achieved this specific posture, you wouldn’t need them.

She thought we all felt the same way, implying that if we took painkillers, we wouldn’t receive the whole birthing “experience.” I was humiliated and embarrassed that I did not share this viewpoint, and I was enraged that I had been made to feel this way.

Laura Cooke while she was pregnant

Women should be allowed to speak freely about their childbirth experiences, whether positive or negative (Picture: Laura Cooke)

I self-referred to NHS mental health services after some mild prodding from my community midwife. After that, there was a phone interview. My case was reviewed by the team, and I was informed, barely into my third trimester of pregnancy, that there was nothing they could do for me since I was so close to giving birth.

And that was the end of it. For the rest of my pregnancy, there was no further mental health assistance. I recall feeling abandoned, powerless, and even more terrified as I hung up the phone. Despite the fact that I knew they were correct. With just a few weeks before I had to confront it, what could practically be done to rid me of this entrenched fear?

Despite my concerns and misgivings, the big day came, and I went through with the induction. The epidural was administered as soon as my waters were broken. Despite the fact that this alleviated the pain, I still felt pressure in my abdomen. I became terrified and began shouting at the midwife to have a caesarean section. All of the anger and anxiety that had built up over the previous nine months was released on this poor student midwife. I just couldn’t do it.

As a last-ditch effort to prevent surgery, I was given the gas and air, which I had been so averse to because I was afraid it would make me ill or simply not work. I accepted it. And that was the greatest decision I ever made.

My fear dissipated in a matter of seconds. I was in such a good mood that I spent the next several hours laughing and talking gibberish.

I became worried about transition at one point, but was assured that I would sleep right through it.

I gave birth to my lovely daughter just over 13 hours after my waters were broken, with my patient and loving husband at my side and surrounded by an excellent medical staff. I had conquered my fear.

After that, I had my second kid, a tiny girl, 19 months later. This time, I was not afraid of giving birth since I understood how to handle it.

See also: Families

Women should be allowed to speak freely about their childbirth experiences, whether positive or negative. However, I believe it is critical that some facts be recognized for people who suffer from tokophobia.

Birth isn’t necessarily a traumatic experience. Birth may not usually last many days. Birth isn’t necessarily mystical or spiritual. It’s not a cop-out to give birth with pharmaceutical assistance.

It’s sometimes simply a matter of getting through it in any manner you can.

Do you have a personal story to tell? Email James.Besanvalle@metro.co.uk to get in contact. 

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

MORE: How does it feel to have your kid sectioned for almost 15 years?

MORE: How Does It Feel to Lose a Child?

MORE: What it’s like to go through five years of IVF

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Are you still not convinced? Find out more here.

Imagine having a phobia of childbirth. You know that something is going to happen to you, but you can’t see it. You can’t see it because your mind is already conjuring up all the doom and gloom that’s going to happen to you. Your mind is screaming “OH NO! THE BABY’S COMING OUT! I’M GONNA DIE! I’M GONNA DIE! I’M GONNA DIE!” and you’re powerless to stop it. You wish to God that you could just rip your belly open and push the baby out, but you’re afraid that if you try doing it that way, you’ll die and you’ll never see the baby.. Read more about disgusted by pregnancy and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lockiophobia?

Lockiophobia is the fear of locks.

Why am I so afraid of having a baby?

You are afraid of having a baby because you know that you will be responsible for the childs life, and that it will require a lot of work.

How can I get rid of my fear of giving birth?

There are many ways to overcome this fear. One way is to talk with your doctor about the different options that are available for you and what they entail.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • tokophobia test
  • tokophobia symptoms
  • tokophobia
  • pregnancy phobia treatment
  • fear of getting pregnant
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