I once had pains my doctor asked me to describe on a scale of one to ten, ten being labour pains and one is well, not so bad. I began to wonder how bad labour probably was that it gets a ten on a pain scale.
Later, it was really just my luck when I found myself in a maternity ward scared shitless supporting, encouraging and giving, of course, much the needed back massage to a close friend in the throes labour contractions. It was like I could literally feel her agony, the intermittent screams, restlessness and the general discomfort were there before me, it crippled my nerves and swore I could have worshipped my mother then. Shout out to all mothers; I doff my hat to you heroes.
Thankfully for my friend, her delivery was safe, and she was out of the hospital in just two days. So then, what about when delivery isn’t that safe? I mean, if it can be that painful when things go well for a mother what’s it like when it doesn’t? In preeclampsia, there’s the issue of high blood pressure, or pre-existing health conditions manifest affecting pregnancy. There are also the risks of caesarean section when it happens that vaginal birth is not possible. There’s the fear of heights – acrophobia; the fear of darkness – nyctophobia; the fear of animals – zoophobia; and then tokophobia, the fear of pregnancy and childbirth.
For some women, there is a genuine and morbid fear of pregnancy and or childbirth. Some do not look forward to the arrival of their baby and are greatly frightened by the whole process of pregnancy. Some women may avoid childbirth as a result of this fear, and it is known as tokophobia.
The moment some women announce they’re pregnant, they are inundated with stories of long, excruciating labour by family members or close friends leaving a negative effect.
There are two types of tokophobia, primary tokophobia – which occurs in first-time mothers or women who have never given birth. This fear may be as a result of sexual abuse or a traumatic incident of overwhelming pain or even a negative hospital experience. Secondary tokophobia on the other hand, occurs in women who have had a traumatic birthing or pregnancy experience. There may have been an unpleasant caesarean section in the past or prolonged labour in some cases.
There are many risk factors present around us that trigger this fear, maternal mortality itself being the greatest and a problem in our society. The reality of these factors makes this fear real for which no one should be made to feel ashamed but given the needed help to overcome.
By Mercy Godwin
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