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Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors in Mothers after Pregnancy: When the motherly Concerns become an issue

02 Dec 2015

Every mother begins to get attached to her baby the moment it is conceived. It is in her awareness that she is responsible for its nourishment, sustenance and growth.

The moment this news gets across, she finds herself between plenty of suggestions and advice from family and friends about what to be followed with regard to the safety and health of the growing baby.

The first time mother may perceive this situation as overwhelming. She may feel mentally burdened, loaded, pressured, worried, and overly responsible to keep her baby safe inside her womb. She may have feelings to take care about every situation concerning her baby so that nothing bad could happen. Therefore, during this period you would find most mothers to be very hyper-vigilant, fearful, alarmed, apprehensive, suspicious, careful and cautious with the matters concerning to their growing baby.

This prolonged period of stress with accompanied changes in hormones, and physical body may not leave first time mothers worried thoughts at rest. Some pregnant woman may cope with this on-going stress while others may not. For others, worrying about the harm, feeling overly responsible, feeling hypervigilent, fearful and over cautious with respect to growing baby’s safety may be very crucial and important than other equally important household, personal and family care activities. Pregnant woman who worries constantly about the harm that may fall on the growing baby may have an impact on their period of pregnancy, physical health, sleep, appetite, relationships and working life.

Worrying about the safety of the baby during (prenatal) and after delivery (post natal) is a shared concern among new mothers . They may feel in control about the fact such thoughts do not bother them and they can dismiss such unwanted and stressful thoughts at their own will however, it becomes a problem  when first time mothers may pay more than usual attention and focus on the intrusive thoughts which may suggest to them that they may act on these intrusive thoughts, inturn harming the developing baby . As a result, they may feel helpless in the face of these intrusive thoughts. It may effect their day to day functioning, social and occupational relationships.

Many first time mothers often centre their worry or get intrusive thoughts/images on the following themes

· Intrusive thoughts, images, doubts of harm , fears related to their baby, themselves or others catching germs

· Intrusive thoughts, horrific images, doubts of harm, fears related to baby facing abuse or excessive anger at others end

· Fear/doubt/intrusive thoughts/images that baby bottles not sterilised properly or baby clothes not washed properly

·Things to be rigidly kept in a specific and a certain order or perfectionist attitude

·Intrusive thoughts/images/ of harming the baby by drowning, stabbing, dropping etc

·Intrusive thoughts of harming the baby by ingesting medications, certain foods etc

In addition, many first time mothers would follow certain rigid ritual in order to avoid the harm falling on the developing baby and to ease their anxiety feelings. However, she may feel a little relief in her feelings of anxiety. The more she follows rigid rituals, more anxiety results. Rituals centre on following repetitive behaviors

· Excessive cleaning of baby clothes or that of others

·  Excessive sterilising of baby milk bottles

· Rigidly keeping baby away from the touch of others fearing that they may contaminate the baby

· Checking baby constantly while they are on sleep

· Mentally reviewing the steps of the daily routine to make sure that harm was not committed to the baby

·Repeatedly asking others, seeking their reassurance that no harm was committed to the baby

·Hiding sharp objects like knives etc

Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is a very common anxiety disorder. Research studies suggest that it affects 2-4% of the population. Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterised by

·Pervasive, repetitive, unwanted thoughts, images, ideas or doubts (obsessions)

· Mental acts or related behaviors or actions(compulsive rituals) are performed to supress or to neutralise the distress or prevent feared outcome

·Significant impairment in personal, social and occupational functioning

Therefore, it is important to seek professional help from the mental health specialist so that he/she may help you to take care and spend quality time with your developing baby than on obsessions and compulsions.

At ePsyClinic, the help is a click away! You dont have to live with this debilitating condition and obsession!


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About ePsyClinic: We are an Indian health company that is now Asia's largest Online Clinic for Mental, emotional, professional and pregnancy wellness. We have India's top psychiatrists, gynecologists on our panel along with most professionally trained psychologists. Our experts’ receive special training for an effective online management and treatment of various mental health, emotional health, pregnancy health and addiction issues.



Tags: #ocd #pregnancy