How Men Can Deal With A Crippling Fear Of Their Child’s Delivery

Don't get it confused with tacophobia, which doesn't exist.

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As a man who will never experience it first hand (and who has probably watched way too many horror films), birth can seem freaky. Feeling nervous is natural. Worry is natural. But being so deeply unnerved and frightened by the prospect of your kids birth that you literally can’t even … That’s not natural.

That kind of overwhelming fear is actually a pathology with a name. It’s called tokophobia (sometimes tocophobia) and it’s the fear of birth. But, please for the love of all that’s holy, don’t get it confused with tacophobia, which no one should ever have, ever.

What Is Tokophobia?

Tokophobia is a crippling fear of childbirth. The term was coined in 2000. It’s relatively “new” for a psychological disorder. Much like “hanging chad,” though no one remembers who Chad was or why everyone was so pissed at him.

flickr / Sharon Mollerus

For both men and women, the disorder can manifest itself in panic attacks, nightmares and the inability to concentrate on daily activities. It can also result in a complete aversion to sexual activity. But pregnancy can do that anyway, so …

Is It Common?

It’s actually more common than you would think. The first major study to explore tokophobia in men came for Scandinavian researchers in 2010. They found tokophobia in up to 11 percent of fathers-to-be.

A more recent study from India in 2015 found that nearly 79 percent of first time fathers suffered tokophobia, particularly in relation to the health of their partner or child. Usually you only find that kind of percentage from first-time dads if you’re studying something like how many would like to have sex right at this very moment.

flickr / mrplough

What You Can Do About It

To overcome tokophobia consider a couple of known practical interventions. They range from super-simple, to not-so-simple, to complete unconsciousness.

  • Education: Some who have studied the effects of tokophobia in men have suggested that deep education in the processes might help. It’s similar to the idea that controlled exposure to spiders, from photos to live specimens, can eventually help people with arachnophobia. If you have both, expect many egg sacks in your therapeutic future.
  • Birth Classes: The researcher of the 2010 Scandinavian study suggested the use of psychoprophylaxis. The method of mindfulness and controlled breathing forms the basis for Lamaze. So, if you haven’t settled on a birthing class and feel you may have tokophobia, maybe check it out.
  • Hypnosis: Procedures like hypnotherapy have been known to help some men. Sure, it might seem a little out there. But if it means being there for your partner, why not try? Check out the story of this guy who couldn’t even deal with an empty delivery room. He eventually fixed himself through hypnosis and a mantra. No word on if it was simply, “don’t pass out don’t pass out don’t pass out”

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