All About Tokophobia, the Fear of Childbirth, and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling

Tokophobia banner - Caesarean operating theatre

What is Tokophobia?

Tokophobia is the Fear of Childbirth and, like all other fears and phobias, can cause significant anxiety and stress if you suffer from it.

It is a relatively common phobia in mothers-to-be and much less so for mothers with experience of having children, although traumatic birth experiences could easily lead to aversion in the future.

There may be a number of reasons why you developed Tokophobia, for example:

  • You may have been told numerous ‘horror’ stories about childbirth by relatives or friends.
  • You might have picked-up the fear of childbirth from a parent who suffered from it as a form of ‘learned-behaviour’.
  • You may have direct experience of a difficult birth and not wish to experience it again (although this might be quite rational!).

Although phobias are often described as ‘disorders’, there is no valid scientific evidence that Tokophobia is the result of any kind of biological fault or chemical imbalance as proposed in the biomedical models of mental illness.

On the contrary, Tokophobia is much more likely to be the result of your own, subjective evaluation (what you think your experiences mean) of what happened to you and is therefore better described as a psychosocial symptom.

Common symptoms of Tokophobia

Tokophobia Symptoms & Behaviours

All phobias, including Tokophobia, create feelings of anxiety because phobic objects or situations are always perceived as a threat.

Consequently, the symptoms of Tokophobia are both specific and generic and may include:

  • Extreme anxiety or panic attacks when thinking about pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Avoiding sex or intimacy due to the fear of becoming pregnant.
  • Fear of hospitals, medical procedures, or doctors related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Intrusive thoughts or nightmares related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Avoiding discussions about pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, or trembling when faced with pregnancy-related stimuli.
  • Depression, irritability, or other mood changes related to the fear of pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Excessive concern with birth control methods or taking multiple precautions to avoid pregnancy.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a previous traumatic childbirth experience.

Moreover, you may have all, some or even different symptoms to these listed here and this is due to the subjective nature of Tokophobia.

Furthermore, you should also be aware that many of these somatic symptoms (symptoms felt in the body) listed above WILL subside over time and rarely last for more than 20 to 30 minutes.

Scientist examining the causes of Tokophobia Banner

What Causes Tokophobia?

it is likely that your Tokophobia is the result of either traumatic experiences or adverse situations that you experienced at some point in your life.

You may, for example, have been told how difficult or painful childbirth is from well-meaning relatives leaving you fearful of becoming pregnant.

What’s more, because the Fear of Childbirth has never been linked to any biological factors, the most likely explanation for your Tokophobia is the way that you understood and made sense of your earlier experiences.

Is your phobia making you anxious or are you creating the anxiety?

It might be hard to accept, but it’s almost certain that the anxiety you experience when you encounter your phobic object or situation is being unwittingly created by YOU and NOT the thing you fear.

Find out more about the subjective vs objective nature of phobias here.

Tokophobia sufferer in therapy session

Counselling and Therapy for Tokophobia

We can offer you a number of different types of therapy and counselling for your Tokophobia the Fear of Childbirth.

Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:

  • How long you have had your phobia.
  • Your personal preferences.
  • How your phobia is affecting you today.

You can read more about the different types of therapy for Tokophobia on the following links:

Although all forms of psychotherapy use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.

Furthermore, research also suggests that the therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.


Could Reality Therapy Be Right For You?

Reality Therapy is an approach which argues that your Tokophobia, the fear of childbirth, is a product of the way that you think internally and not the result of any kind of external influence.

It also argues that any past experiences which you may believe are the cause of your phobia, are no longer influential because those situations are no longer happening and therefore do not exist.

By teaching you how to take responsibility for the way that you feel, Reality Therapy can help you to stop creating the anxiety and stress associated with your phobic trigger as well as significantly improve the sense of control you have over the trajectory of your life going forward.

Free Initial Consultations for Tokophobia Banner

Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about overcoming Tokophobia or recovering from related mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular phobia and the different types of mental health counselling we offer without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.

Clare Tokophobia Testimonial

Clare Tokophobia Testimonial

Clare Tokophobia Testimonial "Hi Paul, I hope you are well. I just wanted to let you know……..that I am pregnant! …and…I’m completely fine with it 😊 (I’m happy in fact!) which before starting the CBT with you I didn’t think I’d ever be saying. I haven’t developed the...

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Julia Tokophobia Testimonial

Julia Tokophobia Testimonial

Julia Tokophobia Testimonial “CBT with Tranceform Psychology has been life changing for me. I have had anxiety and fear surrounding the idea of pregnancy and childbirth as long as I can remember. Tokophobia isn’t well known or talked about often, and I found...

read more


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome Tokophobia but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your fear of childbirth using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer counselling for tokophobia problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.