The fear of pregnancy is known as Tocophobia. An intense or persistent fear of pregnancy and giving birth can affect the course of a woman’s life.
Reasons For Tocophobia
Why do women fear pregnancy? The pain and suffering experienced in childbirth is a primary trigger for the disorder. Being pregnant can be frightening as well: the way the body changes during pregnancy can symbolize a loss of youthful beauty and a slim body.
Body Image Can Be A Trigger
In a society where women are judged so frequently on just such qualities, it can unleash a torrent of insecurity when weight is gained and the body morphs into a different shape.
Pregnancy Can Be Difficult For Women
The miracle of birth brings along with it many uncomfortable changes for women. For example, ailments such as morning sickness and backaches, as well as fluid retention and swollen extremities, can leave women feeling exhausted and even depressed.
Hormonal changes are also at play during pregnancy, causing all manner of mood swings and emotions. It can be difficult for women to cope with all the many changes that pregnancy brings to their lives.
The Fear Of Loss Of Indepedence Can Be A Factor
Some women fear the loss of independence that having a child will bring. Women with high-powered careers may find the idea of setting it all aside in order to care for a child too large of a sacrifice. They may feel pressured by society to conform to the maternal ideal, which may not be a comfortable fit for them. Some women may shun or fear pregnancy because they fear the responsibility of caring for a baby.
There are other reasons why women fear childbirth. Some of them stem from complications such as difficult births, birth defects and disorders such as Down’s Syndrome.
Modern-day procedures such as amnio allow doctors to find any genetic abnormalities ahead of the actual birth, in order to allow women to prepare themselves. But procedures such as amnio can also cause a lot of tension for women. In general, there are many potent triggers for Tocophobia. While some women glide through pregnancy without a lot of ill effects or discomforts, for others, it represents a completely new mode of being.
Women who avoid pregnancy and childbirth may become compulsive about birth control. If their phobia goes unchecked, they may take drastic measures such as surgical procedures to ensure they cannot bear children. They may seek out abortions if they do fall pregnant.
There can be other side effects of Tocophobia. It can affect sexuality, and the way a woman chooses her relationships. Partners who long for children will be frustrated by Tocophobia in their female partners. It can be a deal-breaker for marriages, unless both partners agree beforehand that no children are wanted.
In some cases, relationships can be destroyed by this phobia. Some women may benefit from psychotherapy that addresses the issues they face with regard to pregnancy. It’s important as well to educate. Learning more about the process of pregnancy, which is quite miraculous, and often free of worries and complications, may ease fears.
Some deep-seated fears may influence the development of Tocophobia. If a prior pregnancy resulted in a traumatic event such as a stillbirth or miscarriage, Tocophobia can be an emotional response to a sad experience.
Some symptoms of Tocophobia resemble those of a panic attack. A feeling of intense anxiety, coupled with physical discomforts such as lightheadedness, upset stomach, and a sense of doom can leave the phobic person feeling alone and afraid.
Avoidance is also common for people with phobias. The Tocophobic will take pains to remain far away from triggers such as pregnant women, possibly even babies, and any reminders of pregnancy and childbirth.
Treatment in the form of therapy and education can reap benefits. This phobia requires the assistance of a sensitive friend, therapist, or counsellor.