I just learned this term last night after watching an episode of Call the Midwife on PBS. This disorder is defined as a pathological fear of pregnancy and can lead to avoidance of childbirth. In the tv episode a Mom had a traumatic birthing with a forceps delivery of her first child. She becomes pregnant with a second child and has no pre-natal care with a refusing of medical care from the midwives. Everything turns out well in the end as the midwife coaxes the mom to open up about her fears. Mom ends up having a wonderful home birth.
In the episode Mom was considered to have secondary tokophobia. Primary tokophobia is the avoidance of getting pregnant for the first time due to intense fear from other trauma such as sexual abuse or witnessing or hearing of traumatic births. Women who have this pathology may also seek to have a cesarean to avoid the birthing experience. It is interesting to note that in our culture today childbirth seems to be something you have “survived” and not relished.
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) can offer the patient a way to calm her fears and align the mind/body connection. In Chinese theory there is the idea of the Heart and Kidney channels not communicating. The emotion of fear resides in the kidneys as well as the reproductive function. The spirit is said to reside in the heart with the heart’s emotion of bitterness. When these two organs are not in sync there can be agitation, insomnia, fear, mental confusion and disruption of urinary and sexual function. As heart represents Fire and Kidney represents Water, the imbalance of these elements will come into play causing the symptoms listed above. By using acupuncture and herbs on these channels, harmony can be restored. Mom will have a much easier time coping with pregnancy, labor and birth. It is also recommended that Mom getting counseling as this is a serious disorder that is still not well known.
Quote of the Day:
“One generation plants trees, another gets the shade” – Chinese Proverb