Also known as Postnatal OCD, Postpartum OCD, Maternal OCD
Welcome to the updated Perinatal OCD section of Taming Olivia!
I want to start by saying how amazing it is that you're here and there's a number of reasons for that:
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, most people have never heard of Perinatal OCD. It is not unusual to meet a whole range of medical professionals who have never heard of it. 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 three 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!
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. If you'd like to learn more about general OCD please check out OCD Action, OCD UK or IOCDF.
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 the sake of this article I'll just always refer to it as Perinatal OCD.)
It can effect women, men, grandparents, carers, foster parents, adoptive parents - anyone put in charge of looking after a little one.
Perinatal OCD can effect people who have had OCD previously or it can be experienced for the first time during this period.
There's various theories as to why people are effected 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' compulsions. These 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.
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).
There's loads more to learn about Perinatal OCD and if you'd like to read further you can't beat the wonderful Maternal OCD website.
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's my The OCD Stories podcast with the wonderful Stuart Ralph.
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.
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 08453906263 or you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are outside the UK please ask your medical professional or do a search online, I don't know enough about them and don't want to risk giving the wrong information to you.
In terms of my website, you will find lots of information in the General Resources section, including links to social media accounts for people who campaign and advocate for perinatal ocd awareness and charities and crisis helplines that can be used if you need some support.
If you only take a couple of things away from this page, please make it:
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.
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 consider this before reading.
Chelsea's Q and A with Alison Dotson