Fear of Childbirth: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

The fear of childbirth or tokophobia is a significant fear of childbirth. It is the most common reason some women request an elective C-section. Fear often includes injuring the baby, the genital tract, or death. Treatment can occur through counseling.

It is a specific type of phobia. In 2000, an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry described fear of childbirth as a psychological disorder that has received little attention and can be overlooked. Signs and symptoms



The term tokophobia was introduced in medical literature in 2000 [3]. The word comes from the Greek topos, which means childbirth, and phobia, fear.

It is also known as “maleusiophobia” (although it is undoubtedly a variant of “maieusiophobia,” from the Greek “maieusiophobia,” which means “childbirth of a woman” [8] generally refers to midwifery), “parturiphobia” (from the Latin parturire, which means “to be pregnant,” and “logophobia.”

You may also be interested in reading: Fear of Friday the 13th: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments.

It causes

The reasons for tokophobia can be complex. Women may fear for the baby’s life, fear the unknown and the uncertainty of labor and the birthing process. Women may lack confidence in obstetric services or fear being alone during work.


Primary tokophobia is the deep-seated fear and dread of childbirth in women who have never experienced birth. It can be before pregnancy and begin in adolescence or during pregnancy. This may be related to your own mother’s experience or be triggered by exposure to childbirth without adequate explanation at a young age.

It can also be experienced by women who have been sexually abused or raped; childbirth can trigger flashbacks in traumatized women.


Secondary tokophobia occurs in women who have experienced childbirth. The previous childbirth experience may have been traumatic, or the women may have experienced other disturbing events.

Symptoms of fear of childbirth

Symptoms of fear of childbirth

Childbirth phobia, as with any dread, can manifest itself through several symptoms, including nightmares, difficulty concentrating at work or family activities, panic attacks, and psychosomatic complaints.

Often, fear of childbirth prompts a request for an elective cesarean section. The fear of pain during labor is strongly associated with the fear of pain in general; a previous complicated delivery, or inadequate pain relief, can cause the phobia to develop.

The fear of pregnancy itself can avoid pregnancy or even, since birth control methods are never 100% effective, avoiding sexual intercourse or requesting a hysterectomy.

Tokophobia is a distressing psychological disorder that medical professionals can overlook; In addition to phobia and disorders of anxiety specific, the tokophobia may be associated with depression and disorder stress post-traumatic.

Recognizing tokophobia and working closely with obstetricians or other medical specialists can help reduce its severity and ensure effective treatment.


Studies from Norway, Finland, and Australia suggest that different types of counseling approaches might be helpful for some women. In practice, cognitive-behavioral techniques are helpful for many women with this fear. ‘

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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