Lauren Pellizzi LLC

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Approximately 80% of mothers experience unwanted thoughts related to their new baby (e.g. infant being injured, belief that they are bad parents, belief that they will not be able to handle parenthood). When these thoughts are interpreted as true and threatening, anxiety and fear are likely to develop. Some new moms may then develop “safety behaviors” in the form of physical or mental rituals to manage their fears. Since these behaviors seem to “work” in that the fears don’t come true, the cycle continues and the behaviors become compulsive.


About 20% of women with OCD experience the onset during pregnancy or immediately after giving birth.  Postpartum OCD most often involves scary obsessions related to harm befalling the newborn infant (in contrast to obsessions having to do with contamination, paperwork mistakes, order and symmetry, and hoarding). In some instances, sufferers report obsessions having to do with accidental harm, while in others the obsessions involve unwanted thoughts or ideas of intentionally harming the newborn


Common obsessions in Postpartum OCD:

  • The idea that the baby could die in her sleep (S.I.D.S)
  • Unwanted thoughts of dropping the baby from a high place
  • Unwanted thoughts of putting the baby in the microwave
  • An image of the baby dead
  • Unwanted thoughts of the baby choking and not being able to save him
  • Unwanted impulses to shake the baby to see what would happen
  • Unwanted thoughts of poking the baby in the soft spot in her head (fontanel)
  • Unwanted thoughts of stabbing the baby
  • Unwanted thoughts of drowning the baby during a bath
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts or images involving the baby


Common compulsions in Postpartum OCD:

  • Checking on the baby during the night to make sure that the baby is still alive
  • Mental compulsions (such as praying over and over to prevent disastrous outcomes)
  • Reassurance-seeking behaviors (including looking their symptoms up on the internet and asking others if it’s “normal” to have bad thoughts about the baby)
  • Avoiding being alone with the baby for fear that they might act on their unwanted thoughts about harm


Treatment for Postpartum OCD

People suffering from Postpartum OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD.  OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including Postpartum OCD . Like all types of OCD, Postpartum OCD can be treated with a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP).  Contact Lauren Pellizzi to start treatment. 

Postpartum OCD