Post-Partum OCD

"Maternal Instinct, or O.C.D?"  by Kelly Kautz in The New York Times

"Maternal Instinct, or O.C.D?" by Kelly Kautz in The New York Times

Thankfully, we've seen many advances in awareness and screening for Post-Partum Depression.  The "baby blues" are widely recognized and every new mom gets a screening upon leaving the hospital and at subsequent follow-ups.  Unfortunately, Post-Partum OCD is still relatively misunderstood.  This article from the New York Times does its part to dispel some of the taboo around this really common problem.

Post-Partum OCD is something near and dear to my heart.  As the father of three young children, it feels like it's been years since there wasn't a baby in my home.  OCD can be masterful at sniffing out points of leverage; it wants to find things that are important and meaningful, so that it can twist that significance into a rationale to do compulsions.  And what better leverage than a sweet, innocent, helpless little new-born baby?  What could be more horrific than some harm coming to that adorable cherub?  

It should come as no surprise that just about every new parent has thoughts of harm regarding their new-born.  For those with OCD, these intrusive thoughts can grow into obsession, transforming that precious infancy into a nightmare of unwanted thoughts and worries.  Sadly, many people do not recognize these thoughts as OCD.  Rightfully so, there is a certain taboo when it comes to hurting babies.  Many people are ashamed or embarrassed to have had these thoughts; they hide them and bury them so that no one ever finds out.  It is incredibly important to bring attention to this subset of OCD, as the stigma and lack of awareness take such a toll on parents and prevent many people from seeking the care that they need.