Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as postpartum OCD, can be quite distressing for a new mother. A mom may feel like she is the only one who has had these irrational thoughts, and the exact statistics on how many women suffer from the disorder after giving birth is uncertain. However, most experts agree that roughly 3% of new mothers are affected by postpartum OCD.
When a mother is afflicted with this disorder, she may become obsessed and consumed by particular images, impulses, or thoughts about her baby. She has intrusive and disturbing unwanted thoughts that make her extremely nervous and anxious, as well as often feeling guilty and ashamed. In order to overcome the feelings of distress and anxiety, the mother may develop compulsive urges.
One of the main symptoms of postpartum OCD is a paranoid anxiety about harm to the baby. This will often cause a new mother to be excessive about checking on the baby, cleaning and sterilizing the milk bottles multiple times due to fears of contamination, compulsive hand washing, etc.
Basically all of the obsessive thoughts are protective, but sometimes due to the obsessive compulsive behavior, they could cause harm to the baby. Other common compulsive behaviors that may develop are obsessive cleaning, repetitive behavior, anxiety, nervousness, depression and fear.
Essentially, any women can be affected by this disorder, however, women whose family has a history of obsessive compulsive disorder have a higher likelihood of developing the disorder. Women who develop OCD while pregnant are twice as likely to have it after their baby is born. Women who already have OCD before getting pregnant could get worse once they have given birth.
Postpartum OCD should not be confused with postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a much more serious and rare condition in which the mother loses touch with reality and develops serious symptoms such as hallucinations, illogical thoughts, delusions, as well as thoughts of performing suicide and homicide. Women with postpartum OCD on the other hand, realize that their thoughts are irrational and are causing them undue anxiety.
Although not as serious as postpartum psychosis, women who suffer from postpartum OCD should seek professional help as well. Many women find talk therapy, or psychotherapy helpful.
The health information in this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.
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