Prenatal and postpartum obsessive symptoms are experienced by 3 to 5 percent of new and expecting mothers and fathers. The postpartum period is the most common time for the onset of OCD or OCD like symptoms for women. Women with OCD have disturbing and intrusive thoughts that can be quite variable and can include imagining harming or killing their baby, or harming or killing themselves. Women do not act on these thoughts, and these thoughts are not in line with how women really feel and therefore the thoughts are upsetting and distressing.
Common symptoms include:
- Repetitive, intrusive thoughts related to the self and/or child
- Obsessions or intrusive thoughts cause significant anxiety or distress
- Compulsions that cause the mother to perform certain actions to reduce anxiety (cleaning, checking things multiple times, etc.)
- Extreme preoccupation with protecting the infant
- Struggling mothers understand their thoughts are unusual and are unlikely to act on them