It is quite common for women to experience anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth. It is no strange situation to be anxious due to contraction pains, surgical struggles and uncertainty of the process. However, for some women, the fear of pregnancy and childbirth can be so dominant that this affects the pregnancy processes and daily lives.
This severe fear of birth is called tocophobia – literally birth phobia. And for some women, this includes feelings of dissatisfaction and disgust during pregnancy.
Tocophobia can be defined as two types – primary and secondary. Primary tocophobia is seen in women who have not given birth before. In these women, the fear of childbirth often stems from past traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse. It is also associated with experiences such as witnessing a difficult birth, listening to stories that portray the birth as embarrassing or dangerous, or watching programs. Women struggling with secondary tocophobia often experience traumatic birth experiences that cause them to fear rebirth.
It is difficult to say how common tocophobia is. According to studies, 2.5% to 14% of women are affected by tocophobia. However, some researchers suggest that these rates go up to 22%.
These rates vary due to the inclusion of women with different levels of tocophobia in the study. As a result, although some women experience relatively mild tocophobia, in others the situation is much more serious.
Women with tocophobia come from a wide variety of social backgrounds. Although it is obvious that they are likely to have difficulties with mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, it is difficult to predict which woman will be affected by tocophobia.
Some women may find the pregnancy process quite difficult; especially the growing abdomen and feeling the movements of the baby can cause discomfort. AnxietyProblems such as insomnia, nutritional disorders, and an increased risk of prenatal or postpartum depression are defined as the consequences of tocophobia.
Another of the negative consequences of tocophobia for women is; prolonged births. Usually in such births, due to anxiety experienced epiduralThe need for forceps or suction cups is common. However, the risk of these methods creating complications for both mother and baby should not be denied.
After pregnancy and childbirth, tocophobia can cause the bond between mother and baby to be less satisfying. And a difficult birthing experience can create fear of getting pregnant again in women.
Studies show that clinical care for women struggling with tocophobia is quite inadequate. However, there is still no help. Some women find it helpful to talk about their traumatic birth experiences; others to get information about birth. However, some women may require more targeted treatment; Making use of counseling services can be very helpful.
Many women find it comforting to visit maternity services and talk to midwives or obstetricians during their pregnancy. Knowing that they are not alone is very calming and helpful for women who find their situation isolating and think that they only experience this intense fear.
Tocophobia can be harmful both physically and mentally for women and their families. Some women can avoid getting pregnant even if they want to have children; In the case of pregnancy, decisions about birth preferences can be affected. For these reasons, if possible, we need to work on preventing tocophobia and provide effective treatment methods for women struggling with this difficult situation.