Trapped By Tokophobia? Here's the Trap Door!
Trapped by Tokophobia? Here's the Trap Door!
It may sound extreme to talk about being trapped by Tokophobia. But anyone who is plagued by the pathological fear of childbirth knows this feeling only too well. The feeling of being controlled; suffocated by what feels like an outside force with a mind of its own.
We can be doing something as mundane as perusing the supermarket shelves and BAM, there it is. Maybe a picture of a baby, a passing pregnant lady, whatever the trigger, we are suddenly thrown into the grips of the fear. Our plan for the weekly shop goes right out the window.
Anxiety is like that. The unwelcome guest. Ready to rear its ugly head when we least expect it. And so, our lives become small. Can I go here? Can I go there? Will I be triggered? When will the next panic episode arise? All contributing to the crippling list of what-ifs … not to mention trying to have an intimate relationship with the fear of pregnancy hanging over us like a bad smell.
The time we want to be at ease and relaxed enjoying our partner’s company is all too often when we are at our most anxious, paralyzed by the thought of what might happen next.
So where does that leave us? Must we go through our lives controlled by this fear that no one else quite seems to understand? We are, of course, no strangers to the search for solutions. When we aren’t feeling anxious about pregnancy and childbirth, we turn our attention to trawling through the internet for anything that could help stop this nightmare. I use the term ‘we’ as I was there. I remember only too well the sleepless nights of anxiety and fear. The desperation to find an answer. So I’d like to propose something that may sound a little odd at first: that the scurry of panic to find a solution is just pouring fuel onto the already out-of-control fire. What if there was a different approach? One so simple that you would never imagine it could hold the key to your freedom. And it starts like this. Today. Simply start to observe your thoughts and feelings. Get curious. What is going on here? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that question? Yes, you feel the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety and you want it gone yesterday, it feels that awful. But what is that feeling? What is it trying to tell you? This is going to turn everything on its head and the results will open the door to a whole new reality. The only thing this feeling is ever telling you is what is going on in your own mind. Full stop. This to me was enlightening. It’s telling me nothing about pregnancy, nothing about birth, nothing about me. Like the red warning light telling me that my car is out of gas, the feeling of anxiety is simply telling me that my thoughts have gone a little (or a lot!) off course. They have wandered into false territory. And how helpful that is to know! Because you see, I thought my feeling was telling me what was true. Telling me what was dangerous, telling me not to proceed any further, telling me I would die if I went through with childbirth, and on and on and on. What I have come to see is that my feeling of anxiety is my friend. It is there to protect me, not to harm or terrorize me. It is simply alerting me that it may be unwise to trust or follow those thoughts. Any feeling of anxiety, fear, stress, or unease is my warning signal. I can (when I remember) start to question the validity of what I am thinking at that moment by asking the simple question, is that really true? It can seem so counterintuitive. This feels scary and dangerous, it’s urgent and I need to do something now! But that feeling is telling me just the opposite. Do nothing! Go for a walk, take a bath, or do anything that will help the thoughts to slow down and unwind. A psychological reset if you will. You will see that new and different thinking will occur to you. It always does. It’s the way we are made. You never need to be told to believe your light, joyful, inspired thinking. It’s a given. You can trust it wholeheartedly. We all know this truth deep down inside. Sometimes we just need reminding. That the trap door to our freedom was there all along.
Deborah Binun BSc MA MBACP Psychotherapist specialising in Tokophobia,
Birth Trauma & Post Natal Depression www.birthfree.com