Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of the perinatal disorders. It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers will experience these symptoms.

Symptoms of perinatal OCD can include:

  • Obsessions, also called intrusive thoughts, are persistent, repetitive thoughts or mental images related to the baby. These thoughts are very upsetting and not something the woman has ever experienced before.
  • Compulsions, where the mom may do certain things over and over again to reduce her fears and obsessions. This may include things like needing to clean constantly, checking things many times, counting or reordering things.
  • A sense of horror about the obsessions
  • Fear of being left alone with the infant
  • Hypervigilance in protecting the infant

Moms with OCD know that their thoughts are bizarre and are very unlikely to ever act on them. Risk factors for OCD include a personal or family history of anxiety or OCD.

OCD is temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from this illness, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame. You can use our Resources to reach out now. We understand what you are going through and will connect you to people who understand and can help.

 

PTSD

Approximately 1 – 6% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum. These traumas could include:

  • Prolapsed cord
  • Unplanned C-section
  • Use of vacuum extractor or forceps to deliver the baby
  • Baby going to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • Feelings of powerlessness, poor communication and/or lack of support and reassurance during the delivery
  • Experiencing a previous trauma, such as rape or sexual abuse, are also at a higher risk for experiencing postpartum PTSD.
  • Experiencing a severe physical complication or injury related to pregnancy or childbirth, such as severe postpartum hemorrhage, unexpected hysterectomy, severe preeclampsia/eclampsia, perineal trauma (3rd or 4th degree tear), or cardiac disease.

Symptoms of postpartum PTSD might include:

  • Intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event (which in this case may have been the childbirth itself)
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, including thoughts, feelings, people, places and details of the event
  • Persistent increased arousal (irritability, difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response)
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Feeling a sense of unreality and detachment
Postpartum PTSD is temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from this illness, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame. You can use our Resources to reach out now. We understand what you are going through and will connect you to people who understand and can help.