There seems to be a lot of confusion about what tokophobia IS and what it ISN’T which I’d like to clarify.
At a very basic level tokophobia is this: the pathological fear or pregnancy and/or birth.
But, this touches on so many other aspects that sometimes it gets confusing. And this is because tokophobia messes with your head.
One such confusion I come across is this
“women with tokophobia don’t want kids”
That is one big generalisation right there. It’s like saying French people like cheese (I’m half French and cheese is on my mind a lot at the moment, forgive me!).
The truth is that, as with cheese, some women who suffer from tokophobia want kids and some don’t. But the two are not linked.
Tokophobia messes with your head
I think the confusion comes from how tokophobia makes you feel. It has twisted knack of messing with your head and confusing you. I know because it did it to me.
Before I realised I had tokophobia, I thought I didn’t want kids. I had the whole career thing going on and in my head that was more important. Kids didn’t even feature. They were so absent from my life vision that I never had The Kids Conversation with my significant other half… even 6 years into the relationship! That is how much tokophobia was messing with my head. It’s not that we had the The Kids Conversation and both agreed that it was a ’no’; it was I NEVER brought it up.
I was in total avoidance on the topic. That there is a huge clue that fear is at play, but I just didn’t recognise the signs back then. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Lots of women don’t want kids… and that’s fine!
There are lots of women out there who don’t want kids. One of my best friends is one of them. She likes kids and is happy to spend time with pregnant women (and kids), but she’s decided that she doesn’t want to me a mother. Which is fine and brilliant.
Not all women are destined to be mothers. There is plenty of other stuff women can do with their lives. It’s simply a different path. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
But, not wanting kids does not automatically mean that you have tokophobia. Just as having tokophobia does not automatically mean you don’t want kids.
There are French people who like cheese. And some that don’t. It has nothing to do with their Frenchness, or the cheese. It’s just the way it is.
Our mind helps us to better cope
The thing is when you have tokophobia it can be hard to separate things and so it might very much feel like you don’t want kids BECAUSE you have tokophobia – even if that’s something that you’ve never really articulated. The reason why this thought might materialise is because when we have strong fears, our mind plays tricks on us to support our beliefs. We don’t want to make ourselves wrong or feel bad.
So when we think “OMG! I can’t face pregnancy/birth”, our mind steps in to help us cope with this. And it does this by saying “well, I don’t want kids anyway, so that’s OK”.
If you had a dairy intolerance or allergy and had to avoid cheese, you may very well tell yourself that you didn’t like cheese that much anyway, to help you deal with it. Because to constantly tell yourself how much you love cheese and miss it would just put yourself through unnecessary torture. Much easier to say you don’t like it.
When the fear has gone, the mind doesn’t have to do that anymore, so our heart’s true desires can be heard. And this is why once we’ve cleared our fears, we might realise that we do indeed want kids. As I realised. And as many women who I’ve worked with realised.
But not all of them. Because, as we’ve already established, not all women want kids. And that’s totally fine and brilliant.
Do you think you have tokophobia?
If you think you have tokophobia and would like to overcome it, I’ve pulled together a free email series that helps you to think through your options. You can sign up for that right here.
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- Pregnancy anxiety and COVID - 18th February 2021