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Also known as Postnatal OCD, Postpartum OCD, Maternal OCD

PERINATAL OCD

Welcome to the Perinatal OCD section of Taming Olivia!
This page is very specific to Perinatal OCD. Please also check out the Adults with OCD section. 

I want to start by saying how amazing it is that you're here and there's a number of reasons for that: 

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  • I know it's not always easy reading around these topics, it can be frightening, but that's okay because we're here together and believe me when I say there is literally NOTHING you have thought about or worried about that I haven't already! 

  • Although things are changing, many people haven't heard of Perinatal OCD. The fact you have heard of it and are reading up on it is a huge step towards recovery.

  • I've been a Perinatal OCD advocate for over eight years now. I've met some of the best people I've ever met in my life through it, I've come across some of the best resources, and some of the best organisations. I'll share them with you on this page. Remember you are not alone in the slightest! We're all here with you too!

  • A fact I always loved - studies show that 95% of new parents get unwanted intrusive thoughts about their children. People without OCD can often brush these of as nonsense. As people with OCD, we find the thoughts abhorrent - our dislike of uncertainty makes us question why we had the thoughts and we can end up very distressed and anxious. 

 

So what is Perinatal OCD? 

I wrote an article on Perinatal OCD for The British Journal of Midwifery. It was thoroughly fact checked by the wonderful ladies who run the Maternal OCD charity in the UK and it acts like a one-stop-shop for all things Perinatal OCD so please check it out. The article is here!

It also explains what general OCD is so if you're not sure about that have a read before you learn specifically about Perinatal OCD.  

 

If you don't have the time, or really can't face reading a longer article, I've summed up some of the main points about Perinatal OCD below.

So here we go!

  • Perinatal OCD is OCD that affects parents in the months just before and/or after childbirth. It is often also referred to as Maternal OCD, Postnatal OCD and Postpartum OCD. Keep that in mind if you're searching for information. The US in particular have some amazing resources and information under postpartum OCD. (For this article I'll just always refer to it as Perinatal OCD.) 

  • It can affect both mums and dads.

  • Perinatal OCD can effect people who have had OCD previously or it can be experienced for the first time during this period.

  • There are various theories as to why people are affected by Perinatal OCD  (please see the Midwifery Journal Article - link above).

  • Although the main symptoms are all similar in that they are focused on the child, the range of obsessions and compulsions that can take place is endless. Keep a particular look out for 'hidden' or sneaky compulsions. I've written about these here. These compulsions are far more discrete and tricky to catch. They include counting in your head, praying, reviewing events, replaying conversations, repeating words, sentences or phrases in your head. Honestly the list goes on and on so make sure you're aware of them.  

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  • There are range of treatments available. The gold standard treatment recommended by NICE is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Exposure and Response Prevention (with or without medication).

A Bit about Me!

Having had OCD since early childhood, I suffered from Perinatal OCD after having my son in 2012. I've shared my story as much as I can over the past few years and I'll put links to them just after this because I really want to share this first. It's so important:

  • I was so poorly I couldn't believe there'd ever be a time when I felt better. When I'd be able to have a normal life. I was wrong about that. 

  • I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Exposure Response Prevention and it worked. 

  • I took medication on and off over the years and it worked.

  • I still get the odd intrusive thoughts but they rarely bother me.

  • Recovery is possible.

 

The reason I'm telling you this is because I would have given anything to see it when I was in the throws of what was easily the most difficult period of my life. Perinatal OCD does get better. Hold onto that. Write it down and keep rereading it if you have to, repeat it to yourself until you start to believe it... it gets better!

And here are those links to my story:

If you fancy listening to it here.

Here's my story written down as a post for the blog. 

You'll find more version dotted about on my website and around the internet, I've lost count of how many times I've told it but I think the above are probably the most detailed. 

Getting Support

If you think you may have perinatal OCD talk to a medical professional. If you are worried about sharing the nature of your OCD or intrusive thoughts have a chat with one of the charities first. 

For those in the UK, if you want to contact someone for advice, Maternal OCD work alongside OCDAction and the number for OCDAction's helpline is 0300 636 5478 or you can email them on support@ocdaction.com​. If you are outside the UK please contact the International OCD Foundation (IOCF). They also have a very helpful section on perinatal OCD too.

 

On the Taming Olivia site, you will find lots of information dotted all through the site, especially this blog and in the Adults with OCD section, 

Organisations

Break Free from Maternal Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide for Pregnancy, Birth and the First Postnatal Year

Fiona Challacombe et al 

I've added links to a few stories below just so you can see that you aren't alone. These may be triggering, so please be really careful and consider this before reading. Remember you can always step away at any time. 

My Q and A with Alison Dotson

Beth's Story

Chelsea's Q and A with Alison Dotson

The success stories page on MaternalOCD.org

 

Men's Health Article

Gemma's Story

Lucy's Story

  • There are whole communities of people living with OCD out there on the internet. We're an international, tight knit and supportive community. There will be LOADS of people on social media who are not on these lists on this page. I deliberately only included the people who are in the public eye already and who I know really well. To find others, keep an eye out for those talking about OCD – you’ll soon find lots of other people who have been through the same as you and understand the journey you are on.

  • PLEASE remember that although it’s fantastic to find people who have been through similar to us, and to feel the massive relief that we are not alone, it is also essential that we focus on recovery. Try not to spend too long caught up in chats about how hard life with OCD can be. Yes, there’s a place for that too, but try to use the groups for hope and recovery ideas and if you’re coming away from them feeling defeated rather than hopeful it may be time to leave that particular group. Also keep an eye out for repeated reassurance seeking - that is a compulsion and can make OCD much worse. 

  • Whilst searching, you're likely to come across the term 'Pure O'. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about whether this term should be used or not, but basically it is used to refer to someone who has internal compulsions. They do not visibly display any outward signs of compulsion but will do so 'internally'. Examples of internal compulsions are things like scanning memories for evidence, seeking reassurance through memories of previous experiences, etc. Whatever your view, it's all OCD and that content will help you too.  

Please make sure you look after yourself when you are online. There are a few of people working within the community who take money for doing therapy even if they aren't trained professionals  (the term 'therapist' isn't protected in many countries and anyone can use it). Non-professionals SHOULD NOT be doing therapy - it can be dangerous and is highly unethical. 

For more information on how to safely use the services of advocates please check out this blog. 

​And just a quick note to say that in England if you are feeling very poorly you are advised to head to your local A and E department. Or if you have been given a crisis number by your Dr to ring them and they can get help to you. Please do this if you need to, there is no shame in it, I’ve done it. It takes a strong person to realise they need support. You’re far too important not to ask for it.

If you only take a couple of things away from this page, please make them this:

  • You are not alone, there are loads of us who have either been through perinatal OCD or are currently experiencing it .

  • People recover from perinatal OCD.

Lots of love everyone. 
                                               

Cat xx

 

Some extra pointers...

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