What is Perinatal OCD and How to Deal With it

Last Update on October 20, 2022 : Published on October 27, 2022
Perinatal OCD

When a woman is pregnant she undergoes a lot of changes physically and emotionally. The hormone is all haywire making them vulnerable to various mental and emotional pressures. Pregnancy also puts a woman at risk for various physical and mental health issues.

Perinatal OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder during or after pregnancy) is one among many pregnancy disorders. Perinatal OCD often goes unattended because the compulsive behavior is misunderstood as being over-cautious as the woman is pregnant at the moment.

No mental health condition fades away on its own. You either have to take some professional help or indulge in some self-help strategies to cater to the difficulties you’re facing. Similarly physical or mental health conditions during pregnancy also need some attention.

Even though disorders during or after pregnancy might fade away in some time, there is no guarantee that they will not reoccur. Therefore it’s very important to know about mental health conditions like perinatal OCD and how you can recover from it.

What Is Perinatal OCD?

Perinatal-OCD

Perinatal OCD is a mental health condition that affects women who are pregnant or have just given birth. Perinatal OCD can be described as experiencing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder during or after pregnancy.

In most cases, the obsession is related to the mother and their baby’s health and comfort. But having obsessions and compulsions about random other things is also possible. Having a baby is a huge change in life and experiencing stressful thoughts about the baby is quite common among first-time mothers.

Many women are often seen worried and stressed about the well-being of their unborn child. These threatening thoughts can continue long after the baby is born. Such feelings can generate offensive thoughts resulting in compulsive action.

Perinatal OCD Symptoms

To understand the symptoms of perinatal OCD let’s divide them into the three main aspects of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Symptoms of obsession in perinatal OCD;

  • Fear of your food/water/area being infected with germs
  • Intense stress about being irresponsible, for example, “Is the door locked?” “Did I take medicine in the morning?” “Should I eat this food?”
  • Fear of accidentally hurting or harming someone
  • Oppression to be perfect (perfectionism)

Symptoms of anxiety (caused by obsessions) in perinatal OCD;

Symptoms of compulsion in perinatal OCD;

  • Ritualized behavior or actions (for example, washing, sanitizing, and cleaning stuff frequently)
  • Frequently check the baby’s breath or well-being even when they are asleep
  • Request assurance from others about everything they are doing
  • Regularly chanting (for the well-being of the baby) or engaging in repeated “touch wood”  behavior
  • Avoid visiting any place that has even the slightest danger to the baby

Perinatal OCD Treatment

If you think you have developed perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder, the first thing you do is get your symptoms examined. Once you are examined by a mental health professional, they might suggest you some treatment options that are pregnancy friendly.

Usually, perinatal OCD is treated using psychotherapy or talk therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is said to work best with prenatal OCD cases. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) can also be proven to reduce perinatal OCD symptoms.

Perinatal OCD can also be treated using medications. Medicines are usually avoided if the mother is still pregnant or if these clinical drugs pose any threat to the baby’s health. If the symptoms are severe psychotherapy and medicines can be used alongside.

Perinatal OCD Self Help

Perinatal-OCD-Symptoms

All perinatal mental or physical health issues can be managed. Perinatal OCD can be managed at home as well. Only if your perinatal OCD symptoms are not very severe. You can also practice these perinatal OCD self-help tips along with the treatment you are receiving.

Here are some self-help tips for perinatal OCD that you can try;

  • Know your triggers. Recognize your triggers so that it’s easier for you to differentiate between your triggers and genuine concern.
  • Challenge your obsessive thoughts. It will be difficult to do that but you will have to prove to yourself that these obsessive thoughts are irrational and nothing bad is going to happen.
  • Understand your condition. It’s very important to understand what you are going through. Once you understand the reason behind your actions, it’s easier to find an alternate response
  • Talk to someone about it. There is no point in suffering alone. Talk to someone so that you can express your thoughts and feelings.
  • Have a strong support system. It’s better to have someone close to you who you can trust. Taking care of a new baby can be overwhelming and having OCD along with that can leave you burnt out.

That’s All folks!

I hope you found this blog about perinatal OCD helpful, informative, and interesting. Do share this blog with your friends and family, especially the ones who have just given birth or are about to.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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