"I'm terrified of having an alien in my belly."


That is how Samantha describes her tokophobia - it is a rare phobia that affects about 14% of women worldwide. 


Journalist with BBC Radio 5 live, Eleanor Layhe spoke to some women about their experiences with this rarely-spoken about the condition. 


“Seeing pregnant women freaks me out, and even just talking about pregnancy or birth can make me shake, sweat, and set off anxiety attacks.” 
Rena Gough is a hypnobirthing coach who runs sessions for women with tokophobia. She says this is not just a nervousness about being pregnant - some women are so scared of being pregnant that they avoid it at all costs. 
Many of the women interviewed by Eleanor say that their families just don't get it:
“My husband has wanted a family for years,” she says. “I tried to face my fear and come off the pill, but now I just avoid sex as much as possible because I’m so scared. I’ve even thought about taking the pill behind my husband’s back and pretending I can’t get pregnant.”

“I just can’t wrap my mind around a breathing, growing, human kicking my lungs and ribs. I don’t trust my body to go through it, even though I know that’s what it’s made to do.”



Eleanor also spoke with Sophie King. She is a midwife, and explains that the condition seems to be on the increase:


"I'm seeing more women coming through the door with it than they used to do, possibly because tokophobia is linked to anxiety disorders, which we’re also seeing more of."


She also says that it can be linked to having a traumatic birth and the fear of things going wrong again. That loss of control and previous difficult experiences can have a real effect on a woman's perceived capacity to give birth. 


The issue of negative narratives surrounding birth and pregnancy are also being blamed on inaccurate portrayals on TV and in movies. Alexia Leachman, who also suffered from the condition says she is trying to change this perception:


“It’s rare to find a positive story on birth,” she says. “I’m pushing the media for more positive content.”


For now, the advice is to talk to your GP who might be able to arrange appointments with an obstetrician to help get rid of some of the fears surrounding pregnancy. CBT and other positive therapies can also help women gain a new and more positive perspective about the process of bringing a new life into the world.


Check out the full article here


Can you relate to this? Have you ever heard of it? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments.