What is Tokophobia and how can you overcome it?

Did you know there is a phobia of childbirth? It is called Tokophobia, an actual condition that some women suffer from in silence. In this article, I will explain what is Tokophobia, its causes, signs, and treatment options.

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Rama Kanj
Published on:May 1st 2022 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
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What is Tokophobia

A phobia is an extreme fear, that is irrational. This type of pdf phobia is stressful for a woman planning to get pregnant or expecting a child.

This condition is not well known, even mental health professionals do not encounter many patients who have a fear of childbirth. And this is because many women don’t want to admit to having such feelings and being afraid of childbirth. 14% of women suffer from a phobia of childbirth, while 80% feel stressed or anxious about it. The difference between being stressed about birth and having a phobia about it is that stress is normal and under control. While Tokophobia is an out-of-control stress and fear that will affect a woman’s life and affect her decision to have children.

Signs of tokophobia

- Unwillingness to become pregnant and being unexcited about it.

- Hiding the pregnancy when it happens, by wearing oversized clothes and avoiding conversation about pregnancy.

- Not feeling any connection to the unborn child.

- Increase of anxiety as the due date approaches, instead of being excited.

- Having intrusive thoughts about medical complications that might happen during labor.

Causes of Tokophobia

- Hearing negative experiences about other women’s birthing experiences.

- Going through a difficult medical experience that was traumatizing, and scary.

- Being under a lot of pressure from herself or from those around her to have a smooth and perfect birthing experience. This will generate extreme anxiety about any potential complication that might ruin this perfect experience.

- Lack of enough knowledge about the childbirth process.

- Women who always want to be in control of their lives, and to know what to anticipate, struggle with this type of fear more than others. As in childbirth things can go in different directions, which makes it hard for them to deal with the unknown.


Gynecologists are the first who can pinpoint such an issue, as they are the front liners who treat women through pregnancy. They can detect any abnormal symptoms and can refer the expecting mother to a mental health professional. It is very often that the OBGYN works alongside the psychologist or the psychiatrist to treat this type of phobia.


- Education

Teach the mother everything about childbirth, explain to her any potential complications, and reassure her that the medical staff is well-trained for any expected complications. The more she knows what to expect about childbirth the more the phobia is controlled. This makes the motherhood classes such as the ones offered by Omooma, an excellent tool to manage the symptoms of this phobia.

- Cognitive-behavioral therapy

This is the recommended therapy for any kind of phobia, as it helps the person understand irrational fears, where are they coming from, how they are impacting their behavior, and how to manage them. CBT will help a woman who suffers from Tokophobia to change her thought pattern about this issue. It will also give her techniques to reduce anxiety, such as breathing techniques to calm her body symptoms that are caused by anxiety. This will give her clarity of thinking which will lead to calm behavior.

- Antidepressants

This type of medication is usually prescribed by a psychiatrist, with a dosage that is safe during pregnancy. The doctor will prescribe an antidepressant suitable for each stage of pregnancy. Medication will reduce anxiety symptoms, will improve mood changes, and provide the expecting mother with more clarity as well.

- Strong social support

A woman going through this challenge needs the support of her husband and family. The husband needs to be aware of her condition and be understanding and be ready to offer support. We encourage any woman feeling this type of fear to share her feelings with her husband and loved ones so that they help her. Being surrounded by people who give her positive vibes about birth will also be of great benefit in overcoming this fear. Asking mothers who went through positive childbirth experiences and learning from them will lessen the fear as well.

- Sharing

A mother going through this mental fear must not be ashamed or embarrassed about sharing her feelings. Sharing and expressing her fears will get her the help and the treatment to overcome this challenge.

A word to expecting mothers

Fear and anxiety are normal, as this is an unusual period, and your body will go through many changes. However, if this fear will stand in the way of having children or leading a normal life, you must know you are not alone, help is available, and treatments are successful in treating this fear.

Find out about Calming the New Mom Fears

dr. rama.webp
Rama KanjEducational Psychologist

Rama is a mother to a lovely daughter. She is a licensed Educational Psychologist and a diplomate of the American Board of School Neuropsychology. She is currently a doctoral candidate pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology in the UK. Rama has demonstrated experience supporting parents and families in the Arab region. She considers herself a mental health advocate and is passionate about child development and parenting. She believes there is no way to be a perfect parent but a million ways to be a good one.

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