Written by Editorial Team
Feel like you are not in love with your newborn? You might be suffering from Postpartum OCD.
After an exciting and impatient wait of nine months, you finally get to cradle your bundle of joy in your arms. At first, you feel nothing but love and gratefulness. The awe of having played God. The humility you feel in knowing the baby in your arms is yours.
For most moms, this joy ride will continue with a few hiccups and blues. But for around 3%-5% mothers, the joy and warmth might get replaced with very disturbing thoughts about injuring the baby. This is an extremely serious condition called postpartum OCD. It is also very tricky – for starters the mothers feel ashamed to talk about it as the thoughts are very intrusive. Secondly, if the mothers do talk to their doctors, it is most often misdiagnosed as postpartum depression. If you, or anyone you know, are experiencing obsessive thoughts about harming the baby, then please read on. Educate yourself. And most importantly, get help.
Motherhood is as difficult a time as it is exciting. It is not uncommon for any woman to feel overwhelmed with all the new “mommy” responsibilities. Many of us buckle under this dual-hat pressure – doing everything we did before we became ‘a mom’ AND being a mom. There will be days when you feel sad, sleepless, down, cry spontaneously and even be ready to give up on motherhood. You might also feel ashamed of your feelings because it looks like all other mommies around are doing it right with a smile on their faces. The sadness you feel in such situations – it can be either the common (and harmless) baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression. How do you find out? The duration of the time you feel it and the progression of your symptoms.
The unfortunate truth is that mommies with postpartum OCD are often misdiagnosed to have postpartum depression. And mothers with postpartum depression are often brushed off by saying they have routine baby blues. With so little understanding about the condition even among medical practitioners, it is important the mothers at least are able to spot signs of it.
OCD stands of obsessive compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder resulting in irrepressible fears, compulsive or repetitive behavior and intrusive thoughts. Many moms feel a bit obsessed about not wanting to harm the child unintentionally – they wash their hands multiple times, insist everyone near the baby has uses a hand sanitizer, do not allow anyone with an infection to come near baby and so on. These are NORMAL behavioral traits. But it becomes more obsessive and compulsive when the fear interfere with the mom doing her duties for the child.
While every case of postpartum OCD is unique, the general symptoms are:
for the fear of some toxins or germs passing on to the child
Since close to 60% of all moms with postpartum depression also have postpartum OCD, chances are that if you have postpartum OCD, you will also show many symptoms of postpartum depression. For more on postpartum depression, read Post Natal Depression – Symptoms, Treatments and Recovery.
The studies are still nascent as to understand this condition fully. But broadly, the causes can be either biological or psychological. Biological reasons are attributed to the hormonal changes that happen in a mother’s body, particularly the fluctuations in the levels of oxytocin, which is linked to OCD. The other reason could be psychological, which results in having dangerous infant-related thoughts.
If you fear you have postpartum OCD, please talk to your doctor about it and consult a specialist. The silver lining is that the condition is treatable just the way any normal OCD is taken care of. Few treatments that might work are:
If you are facing with the symptoms mentioned in this write-up, please understand that you are not a bad person or a monstrous mother. There is a biological and psychological reason for feeling what you are feeling and there is treatment for it. So please get help.
With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.
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