When Does a Rational Fear of Child Birth Become a Phobia?

Our latest reader testimony comes from Jennifer:

I have tokophobia and two kids. My mother and both grandmothers were ripped apart during childbirth. They all had lifelong incontinence and sexual dysfunction after countless surgeries. It destroyed one of my grandmother’s marriages. My father just resorted to affairs but stayed with my mother despite her complete inability to orgasm and having to wear basically adult diapers most of her life. (She still does.)

When I became pregnant, I thought I could rationalize through my fears of ending up the same way, but I was terrified. My OB ended up performing an elective cesarean at 40 weeks. I had a healthy baby and excellent recovery. I did it again two years later with the birth of my second daughter. Both times I was walking around the halls with my new baby within 12 hours.

So far I’m the ONLY woman in my family to give birth without incontinence and sexual dysfunction. I’ll advise my daughters to also have surgical births. Sometimes tokophobia is valid.

But this next reader, Diane, thinks that term is being tossed around too loosely:

It’s not a PHOBIA! I’m sure I’m not the first person to point this out. It’s a legitimate and rational fear. Walk through an older cemetery sometime and check out the dates of death for the women vs. the men.

And you DON’T know what’s going to happen to you. I have three children and I was scared every time (and every experience was different). I know people who have had placenta previa [when the placenta covers the cervix] and almost died. I know people who have had pre-eclampsia [high blood pressure and signs of organ damage] and almost died.