Overcoming tokophobia with hypnotherapy

Picture the perfect pregnancy. A glowing, happy, mum-to-be, trying on maternity dresses, going for pregnancy massages, and chilling out whilst she prepares for the arrival of her tiny, snuggly, bundle of joy. Yes, becoming a mother is a life-changing experience, but in theory, a healthy pregnancy should be a time full of excitement, joy and anticipation.


Sadly, for many, the fear of childbirth, known as tokophobia, can overshadow the journey towards motherhood, or even prevent them from going on that journey altogether. Tokophobia is a common phobia, affecting approximately 14% of women (O’Connell et al, 2017), with some estimates suggesting the number could be even higher.

The fear can have a significant impact on the emotional well-being of potential and expectant mothers, before, during, and after pregnancy. Sadly, those who suffer from tokophobia may suffer psychological distress during pregnancy (Archibald, 2021), and are more likely to go on to experience depression following the birth of the baby (Hofberg & Ward, 2023).

Fortunately, hypnotherapy is a powerful tool to help people overcome tokophobia and approach pregnancy and childbirth feeling capable, calm, and confident.

What is tokophobia?

Tokophobia is an intense fear of childbirth. It can manifest in various ways, including panic attacks, sleep disturbances, avoidance of pregnancy, and requesting a caesarean section. The fear can be debilitating, leading to significant distress and anxiety, especially during pregnancy.

Tokophobia can stem from various sources, including the fear of the unknown, concerns about the capacity to give birth, worries about losing control, or a distrust of medical staff. Often, it is a combination of many different factors, and it is in no way helped by media portrayals of dramatic and dangerous birth experiences. Interestingly, witnessing a real birth is one event that decreases an individual’s likelihood of developing tokophobia (Stoll et al, 2014). 

How hypnotherapy can help with tokophobia

Hypnotherapy tackles tokophobia by working with the subconscious to address fears and anxieties associated with childbirth. For some, it may help to examine an initial incident that contributed to the development of the fear in the first place, however, this is not always necessary. 

During hypnotherapy sessions, the therapist will guide the client into a focused state. Using techniques such as guided imagery, suggestions, and cognitive restructuring, the hypnotherapist and client work together to take the strength out of fears and develop the client’s confidence. In this way, it is possible to tap into inner resources and replace negative messages with more powerful, positive ones. 

A hypnotherapist can also teach self-hypnosis skills for calmness and relaxation for use outside of the hypnotherapy sessions, so you can take the knowledge and use it in other areas of your life too.

Finding a hypnotherapist

When searching for a hypnotherapist who can help you overcome tokophobia, it is important to search for somebody who is fully qualified. You may also wish to search for a therapist who is also a hypnobirthing instructor. Hypnobirthing instructors are trained to understand the science of childbirth, and if you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, they can teach you how to work with your body during delivery. However, it is worth keeping in mind that not every hypnobirthing teacher is a fully qualified hypnotherapist, and therefore may not be able to help deal with tokophobia specifically. 

If you are pregnant and anxious about giving birth, you might find some relief in the knowledge that those who have previously had an intervention-free birth report the lowest level of tokophobia (Størksen et al, 2013). Just as witnessing a birth can help prevent tokophobia, demystifying childbirth can go a long way to relieving fears about it.

If tokophobia is holding you back from starting your journey, I can help you take the first steps, I'm looking forward to hearing from you.


  • Archibald, S.J. (2021). Tokophobia: Why aren’t we talking about it more? The BMJ. (accessed 18 Oct. 2023).
  • Hofberg, K., & Ward, M.R. (2003). Fear of pregnancy and childbirth. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 79(935), pp.505–510.
  • O'Connell, MA, Leahy-Warren, P, Khashan, AS, Kenny, LC, O'Neill, SM. (2017) Worldwide prevalence of tocophobia in pregnant women: systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand ; 96: 907–920
  • Stoll, K., Hall, W., Janssen, P., Carty, E. (2014). Why are young Canadians afraid of birth? A survey study of childbirth fear and birth preferences among Canadian University students, Midwifery, 30 (2), Pages 220-226,
  • Størksen, H.T., Garthus-Niegel, S., Vangen, S. and Eberhard-Gran, M. (2013). The impact of previous birth experiences on maternal fear of childbirth. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 92(3), pp.318–324.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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