Tokophobia has been defined as “The fear of childbirth, which includes dislike or disgust with pregnancy,” (Jones, Wadephul & Jomeen, 2018). One might ask themselves, “How or why could this ever exist?” Are all women not created just to be mothers? That is society’s painting, motherhood is not a reality or desire for all women and believe me, not all those who carried a pregnancy to term are mothers in the real sense of it.
A lot of women grew up with the thought of becoming a mother someday. Although it might not all be clear how things might come to pass, the desire was there. Growing up, I didn’t think much on motherhood as much as I thought about becoming a wife and companion to my future husband. As I hit my twenties, the desire to carry a pregnancy through was there but eventually I started developing a very strange emotion I could not put into words.
From my late teens, I didn’t like to be around pregnant women with the exception of my Mum. It literally freaked me out and it still does but not as much. If a pregnant woman was walking towards my direction, I would change my own direction so that our paths don’t cross. Crazy? I don’t know. But eventually, it was not just avoiding pregnant women but literally shuddering at the thought of being pregnant. My Mum is one of the strongest women I know on this earth and what a role model she is! I remembered when my Mum was pregnant with one of my younger brothers, she would still walk long distance to meet her customers. She worked long and hard, so surely my fear was not rooted in an experience from home.
I cannot say I have Tokophobia because it is not fear of being pregnant exactly that I experienced, rather it was fear of becoming a mother to my own future children. This shocked me because growing up, I wrote down while at high school, what the name of my first born girl will be and that has not changed. I studied early childhood education and had opportunities to teach and be around Pre-School age children and had no problem with it. I have experienced motherhood to some extent growing up as a “mini-Mum” to our youngest siblings and I have no problem adopting and loving other people’s children but the thought of mine is just not forthcoming.
For about two to four years now, it graduated to being creeped out whenever I see babies. Many people’s reaction when you see a baby is probably to go all lovey-dovey and make faces, smile at them and comment on how sweet and adorable they are. That was not for me. When I see babies, I would either turn my face away or give my fakest smile. I will not be moved by their innocence or how adorable they were. No matter how beautiful a baby was dressed or photo shopped, I felt distant. In fact, carrying babies in my arms was probably a chore I didn’t want to experience. When I go into malls, I try to avoid baby sections of stores such as Pep and Ackermans; they freak me out! Now, before we all go into investigative and “you need help” mode, I have no problem with congratulating mothers because it is such a beautiful and divine call from above.
The raw truth is that a lot of young women and even older women have similar experiences and they are shamed and shunned by their families, communities and even the church. It is not a diseases and certainly it is not always spiritually related. We are all made differently and some are not just ready or willing to be mothers. We have nuns around the world who have devoted their lives to serving God and others.
Let us give support and encouragement to anyone we are close to that has Tokophobia, the fear of motherhood as well as unwillingness to be mothers. Isn’t it better not to bear children than have them, only to abandon them? Is it really a must to be pregnant then feel hatred towards the child or blame them for the rest of their live for coming to the world?
In a nutshell, life is a journey filled with lessons and a path of learning that ends when we take our last breath. I am not ashamed about how I feel about children or the fears that I struggled with, as well as the baby steps I am taking to discover who I am as a young woman.
Stop the stigma! Everyone has one struggle or the other. What matters is that we do not allow them to weigh us down and that we fight to be a better version of ourselves daily with the help of God, who made us and called us by name. Girl, Boy, Man or Woman, you are not an abnormality. Either this is just a phase or something permanent, it should not put your life to a standstill. You are worth far more than rubies, gold or diamonds. You are wonderfully and fearfully made.
Jones, C., Wadephul, F., & Jomeen, J. (February 16, 2018). Tokophobia: what it’s like to have a phobia of pregnancy and childbirth? Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/tokophobia-what-its-like-to-have-a-phobia-of-pregnancy-and-childbirth-91271.