Intrusive thoughts and perinatal OCD

 Photo credit: Natalie

Photo credit: Natalie

Intrusive thoughts are the "O"  -obsessive part of OCD.  The frequency with which they take place during the perinatal (surrounding pregnancy and delivery) period for men and women is MUCH higher than you may be aware of.  On the other hand, you may unfortunately be very familiar with the discomfort these unwelcome thoughts can bring.

So, what's this all about? Why do they happen and am I a danger to myself or others because of these repetitive and disturbing thoughts? 

Very often, the topic of pregnant or new parents having thoughts of harm coming to themselves or their baby is brought up when you invite the parents to talk about it.  Falling down stairs, dropping the baby, baby not waking from sleep are some of the most common we hear.  Are the thoughts normal? Yes!  When having the thoughts repetitively begins to change the way you live, places you go, things you avoid- that is not normal. For example, if baby not waking from sleep is keeping you from getting rest yourself when rest FINALLY presents itself- the rest of your health is most likely being affected, SEEK HELP.

Is doing or wanting to do any of these things normal? No- seeking help immediately if you begin to make plans to do these things needs to happen.   

Simply having the intrusive thought does not mean you are at risk for carrying it out. It does NOT mean you are a bad parent or person.  We find most often that parents having these thoughts are MORE protective versus harmful towards their child(ren).  BUT- the disturbing nature and fear the thoughts can produce are nothing to suffer through alone.

What can I do if I'm having intrusive thoughts?

1. DON'T (yes, do not) simply try to push the thoughts away.  If I ask you to NOT think about falling down the stairs with your baby...guess what you are now most likely to think about?  Yeah, not helpful, right?! 

2. Understand and believe: a thought is JUST a thought, by itself- it cannot harm me. 

3. Allow for the thought to take place and leave just as quickly as it came. 

4. Share the thought with someone you trust. Take away the power the thought has by saying it out loud. You will usually find the chances of the thought coming true are slim to none. 

5. SEEK help and support.  Often, intrusive thoughts are only a piece of the disomfort you may be experiencing from emotional distress or other adjustments in life.  Would you seek medical help for physical symptoms that persist or disrupt your daily life? Your emotional and mental health are the hub for your overall feeling of well being- don't discount your health! 

We would love to hear from you and be part of your pursuit of wellness. 

Call us (352) 278-2538


Lauren DePaolaComment