The medical term “tocophobia” or “tokophobia” is derived from Greek “tokos” (birth, chidbirth, parturition, labor) + “phobos” (fear). Tocophobia is defined as an irrational or abnormal fear of childbirth. Tocophobia or Tokophobia is also known as parturiphobia or maieusiophobia or maieuticophobia (Greek “maieutikós” – pertaining to midwifery or obstetrics + “phobos” – fear).
Classification of Tocophobia / Tokophobia
Following 3 types of tocophobia are recognized:
Primary Tocophobia (Primary Tokophobia) – It is defined as a morbid fear of childbirth in a woman that starts before getting pregnant for the first time. The fear of childbirth may begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Such a woman avoids pregnancy to prevent parturition (labor or childbirth).
Secondary Tocophobia (Secondary Tokophobia) – It is defined as a pathological fear of childbirth that starts after a distressing obstetric event in the previous pregnancy, which most commonly is a difficult or traumatic delivery. But, tocophobia may even emerge after an obstetrically normal delivery, stillbirth (birth of a child that died before or during delivery), miscarriage, or termination of pregnancy.
Tocophobia / Tokophobia Associated with Prenatal Depression – In some women, tocophobia may occur as a symptom of depression in the antenatal period (prenatal period).