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Tokophobia: An unreasoning dread of childbirth: A series of 26 cases

  • Kristina Hofberg (a1) and Ian Brockington (a2)
Extract
Background

Some women dread and avoid childbirth despite desperately wanting a baby. This is called tokophobia.

Aims

To classify tokophobia for the first time in the medical literature.

Method

Twenty-six women noted to have an unreasoning dread of childbirth were interviewed by the same psychiatrist, who was not the treating doctor. A qualitative analysis of these psychiatric interviews was performed.

Results

Phobic avoidance of pregnancy may date from adolescence (primary tokophobia), be secondary to atraumatic delivery (secondary tokophobia) or be a symptom of prenatal depression (tokophobia as a symptom of depression). Pregnant women with tokophobia who were refused their choice of delivery method suffered higher rates of psychological morbidity than those who achieved their desired delivery method.

Conclusions

Tokophobia is a specific and harrowing condition that needs acknowledging. Close liaison between the obstetrician and the psychiatrist in order to assess the balance between surgical and psychiatric morbidity is imperative with tokophobia.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr K. Hofberg, Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, Mindelsohn Way, Birmingham B15 2QZ; e-mail: kristina.hofberg@virgin.net
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Ekblad, M. (1961) The prognosis after sterilization on social–psychiatric grounds. A follow-up study on 225 women. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 37 (suppl. 161), 9162.
Fava, G. A., Grandi, S., Michelacci, L., et al (1990) Hypochondriacal fears and beliefs in pregnancy. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 82, 7072.
Lubin, B., Gardiner, S. H. & Roth, A. (1975) Mood and somatic symptoms during pregnancy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 37, 136146.
Marce, L. V. (1858) Traite de la Folie des Fernmes Enceintes, des Nouvelles Accouchees et des Nourrices. Paris: Baillière.
Ryding, E. L., Wijma, B. & Wijma, K. (1997) Posttraumatic stress reactions after emergency cesarean section. Acta Obstetrica et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 76, 856861.
World Health Organization (1992) The Tenth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD–10). Geneva: WHO.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Tokophobia: An unreasoning dread of childbirth: A series of 26 cases

  • Kristina Hofberg (a1) and Ian Brockington (a2)
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