Hope For Moms With Postpartum OCD & Intrusive Thoughts

To my postpartum OCD mamas,

I know what you’re going through. I have been pounded, nearly decimated, by the intrusive thoughts of postpartum OCD. Chased into a corner by them. Beaten into submission by them. It’s hard to think of anything more awful than one’s brain thinking thoughts that the owner of that brain does NOT WANT. Ugly, awful thoughts. But that’s what happens, isn’t it?  All those “what if” thoughts that keep popping into your consciousness, freezing you in your tracks and simultaneously breaking your heart.

There were a couple of stories on OCD today that I wanted to share with you. The first was from Psych Central, and is about uncertainty.  A tidbit:  “The possibility of causing harm to others is not an uncommon obsession for those with OCD.”  The author then writes about our need to check and make sure others are okay and that we haven’t caused or won’t cause or can’t cause harm. The story may help you better understand why you think and behave the way you do during postpartum OCD.

The second story was from ABC News, and was about celebrities who have OCD like moms Charlize Theron, Jessica Alba and Julianne Moore. One quote: “For parents with OCD, having children can actually make symptoms worse. OCD symptoms tend to latch on to things that are most important to us, so parents with OCD may have doubts about their abilities or intrusive thoughts about their child’s safety or hurting their child.” Sound familiar?

Please know that you are not alone. I had postpartum OCD. I had intrusive thoughts. I made it. You will too. Really. The thoughts are not you. They are just symptoms of an illness. Remember that.

In the meantime, if you’d like more information, here are some oldies but goodies from the Postpartum Progress archives on postpartum OCD:

Postpartum OCD: Does Having Scary Thoughts Mean You’ll Act On Them?

The Endless What-Ifs of Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety & Intrusive Thoughts: One Mom’s Story

A Primer on Intrusive Thoughts


About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think


  1. Thanks for posting this. I believe the more we talk about it the easier it will be for us that suffer/suffered from this to speak up. Posts like this remind us that we are not alone and can be very reassuring that we are not going "crazy" and that we can gett through it.

  2. I've never experienced these thoughts. I can't even imagine how terrifying they must be. Can't.

  3. thank you so much for helping women everywhere! I spent 5 days in a hospital and a few weeks in therapy before they realized I was suffering from pure O. I will never get that time back but it has helped me to understand, as well as this site, that I am not alone…please continue to educate the public.

  4. Mindfulness is excellent for treating OCD. It helps so much with relabeling your thoughts and making space between you and them. For instance, next time you get an intrusive thought think ‘I am having an anxiety thought about harming my baby’. Or repeat your thought over and over out loud, it makes it ridiculous and shows you are not afraid of your thoughts and this lessens the anxiety

  5. Hi. I just want to know from other mothers, does the guilt go away? Do you get to spend time with your little loves without that wall of fear?

    I have been doing ERP and my biggest problem is guilt, and then the wall that seems to divide me from my loved one. I want to play with her and have fun with her and I do! I don’t stop but at times i can feel on edge and on the lookout for my thoughts. I want so badly just to enjoy her and be happy.

    • Every mom is different, Jocelyn, but I can certainly tell you that it went away for me. It helps to put some time between you and your illness … the longer you have been recovered the easier it gets.
      ~ K

      • Thank you. 🙂 Also is there a way to do ERP where you don’t have to rethink the thoughts? I dont’ see what good this does. I do better just resisting my compulsions around my llittle love, I don’t see why i have to dig up these thoughts and replay them…it makes no sense to me. It just makes me feel like I am going to be torturing myself and ruining my image of her to get “better” and it seems so selfish to think these thoughts on purpose. So disgusting.

        Basically I have done the ERP where i am around her and i don’t check, i don’t say things to myself, I just be. And I’m doing really good! But for some reason he thinks that I should rethink all the bad thoughts on purpose. I don’t like that. AT ALL.

        • As someone who went through postpartum OCD and had intrusive thoughts, I can understand how weird it seems to consider going to a therapy where the therapist would try to make you think them more, or face them. All I wanted to do was get away from them as far as I possible could. But I will tell you I just read some research that indications that exposure-response cognitive behavioral therapy is VERY effective for OCD. I know it doesn’t seem like it makes a lot of sense, but actually what they’re trying to do is help you get used to them and understand they aren’t real to the point where they don’t affect you. And I would argue that it’s definitely not selfish at all to get better. In fact that’s a huge gift to both you and your sweet baby.

          • Thank you 🙂 It’s not that I would do any of the thoughts it’s just that the thoughts are bizarre and graphic. For example if I see something violent or sexual I become afraid that myu loved one is going to appear in my memory of what I saw. They’re just gross. But thank you 🙂

        • Jocelyn, Listening to your words , it really makes me feel better. That’s exactly how i think and feel. I feel like i’m torturing myself with non sense thoughts.
          I asked myself everyday how it’s possible to love someone so much ( my lil girl) and have all these things on your mind. It’s very frustrating waking up like this everyday. I’ll be so happy when all this goes away. It’s been 13 months already..

  6. I think Postpartum OCD or OCD in general when you’re a parent is perfectly natural. Not to say that it’s not a disorder but I’m saying that to give some of you moms and dads out there comfort.

    If you think about it, people with OCD tend to feel overly responsible for everything. When you have a child, they’re you’re responsibility and if you have trouble trusting yourself because of OCD then of course OCD is going to attach yourself to the well-being of your kids. Even if it means turning against you and being critical of yourself, it’s all in the name of loving your kids.

    So if you get these thoughts, take some comfort in the fact that if you didn’t love your kids, you wouldn’t care about these thoughts. Not to say that people who have intrusive thoughts that don’t get OCD don’t care, they do too, but it’s only logical if you’re someone with this condition then of course it would attach itself to the lives you are responsible for taking care of.

    I hope you all find comfort. Much love to you all. I don’t care how graphic or how intense your IT’s are, they are coming from a place of exaggerated responsibility and love and fear for the well-being of your child. Take some comfort in that if you can.


  7. Hello I’m a mother of three kiddos and I’m suffering ppd ocd. It’s so hard when nobody understands what’s going on. I didn’t know there were so many moms suffering with the same thing.

    • There are SO many moms struggling the same way Jennifer. You’d be surprised!

      • Hi Katherine,
        Were you able to overcome your PPOCD without medication? Are you still taking medicine? I am on Lexapro but it is not working. I could switch medication or try to go off all medicine and fight. I am in CBT which is so hard but helping a little. Would love another warrior mom’s advice. Thank you!!! This blog is a breath of fresh air when I am suffocating!

      • I have questions can you answer them for me are is no one on this page anymore

        • How can we help you Charisse?

          • My IT’s started to occur in my 7th month of pregnancy. They crippled me. I am now 5 months PP and my son is an angel. So easy and happy. I get waves of ananxiety with the thoughts. It creates complete panic. These thoughts are not real….and I know this. But the guilt and hopelessness is consuming me. Any one else felt this way??? I tried zoloft but it just seemed to numb me and kill my sex drive :(. I just want to savor and enjoy my son and amazing husband !

            • Kayla, if you are feeling consumed by your feelings, it’s so important you find a way to treat your symptoms. Could you speak with your doctor about trying a different medication? There are several more that may work better for you.

  8. This website is an absolute godsend to me, I was having intrusive thoughts for a few weeks before I actually looked it up online and found this site. I was too afraid to tell my doctor incase they took my baby away, even though I know I would/could ever hurt her, I still get awful anxiety when I am alone with her due to these ‘what if’ thoughts that play out in my mind. I have a counsellor and I started taking medication a few weeks ago but I know that if it wasnt for people like you that are sharing information and personal experiences my suffering would have been a lot worse. One day at a time and slowly starting to feel better. Thanks again.

  9. Jennifer Marie says:

    Hi I’m a mother of three kiddos. I’ve been suffering with pp ocd ever since my son was three months old. It’s hard cause some days are good and others are bad. I’ve been on meds and then stopped cause I felt better and then started up again cuz I felt bad again. Does this nightmare ever end. My son is now 2 years old and I’m still fighting this. Going to see the dr again haven’t seen her in three months hopefull everything goes good.

    • Hi Jennifer – I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. Your doctor will be able to tell you more, but it’s really important you follow your treatment plan even if you begin to feel better. It’s possible you came off your medication too soon. The nightmare will end. It will just take some more time and guidance from your doctors to get there. Don’t lose hope.

  10. Jennifer Marie says:

    Hi Katherine, I’m a
    Mother of three kids. And with my son Im suffering with pp ocd. It’s so hard. I get crazy thoughts. I wanna just go hide from everyone. I get so scared at times. How do u manage. I want to be normal
    Again. Why can’t I be normal again. I see a dr and I’m on meds but doesn’t seem like it’s helping as much as it should. How did u do it.

  11. erin ozanic says:

    I’ve been going through postpartum ocd and I’m looking for a support group but cannot find one it’s been a really had road I have two little ones close in age (1year old girl and a 3 month old boy) I’m experiencing scary thoughts and fears of being alone with them. Anyone have any tips on how to overcome this horrible feeling?

  12. I am pregnant with my third child, 4 months, and I have been struggling with intrusive thoughts since conception it seems. At first it was really awful. The thoughts were vulgar, sexual, inappropriate, loud, intense, violent, and very very frequent! But, I can now say that they are less frequent, not so loud, and not scary anymore. You reach a point where they stop being scary and they become annoying. Once that happens they are on their way out. It is important to face triggers. If I was scared of harming my son, I clung onto him and basically thought, “I don’t care brain’ I’m going to hold my son.” Face the situation and in time you forget about the weird thoughts. I can enjoy life again and I realized I can be happy anyway. The thoughts can’t hurt me or anyone else for that matter. Let them flash by and don’t give the thoughts attention. It takes time, but it will be worth it. Talking about my bizarre thoughts to my hubby also helped. The hardest thing I think is just having patience and not getting discouraged when they don’t go away over night. But with this, persistence is key. I also found that starting up a hobby helped immensely. I noticed I felt less anxious in the morning because I was excited about something. Stay strong everyone, they are just brain farts and nothing more, no matter how stinky or frequent and they makes us freaking invincible when we can laugh at them and blow em’ off. I am supermom, I can have intrusive thoughts, but I can still be a kick ass mom and love on my kids anyway. I can still have fun with them. I feel like a great mom because I refuse to let thoughts interfere with my life. They are just thoughts and sometimes they even make me laugh! I even tell myself, “Brain, your a little off right now, but I love you anyway and I won’t give up on you.”
    God bless!

    • Terri, your comment made my LIFE. I was so happy with my son until he was nine weeks old (only two weeks ago–ruined my life overnight and I am VERY motivated to heal), and then, one day, it was like somebody switched the lights off in my head and I became terrified, and then very depressed because of my OCD. I started Zoloft five days ago and so far it’s made my anxiety worse, which makes the thoughts harder to confront (I am doing ERP by myself with scripts as outlined in the book The Imp of the Mind by Lee Baer while I wait to see a CBT). Just what I need is to envision a future where those stupid thoughts just don’t matter! I miss my sweet boy and I miss being the joyful mother I was, but I will get back there, and, God willing, it will be soon.

  13. I went through the intrusive scary thoughts I was in so much fear I was ganna act on them. I was on medication for more than a year I got better didn’t have them anymore I was able to enjoy my baby. I have been off medication for more than a year but just 2 weeks ago I felt like I relapsed I’m always in constant fear, my daughter is 4 years old I thought that dark cloud went away but it’s back. I love my baby so much I’m always calling her cause I miss her at work but I’m becoming scared to be near her again 🙁 I can’t eat I feel so much guilt ashamed that I fail back to that scary place 🙁 I’m afraid to call my therapist again afraid what they’ll think of me. Everyday it’s a struggle with anxiety and fear. I’m not sure this is common it’s scaring me

    • Heather King says:

      Jessica, I’m sorry things have taken a turn like this. You can get better again. I think it would be best to talk with the doctor that helped you before to see what they think. I’m sending you peace, it’s going to be okay…

  14. I want more info. Thank you

    • Heather King says:

      Hi Linda, you can find a lot more information about both Intrusive Thoughts and OCD by using the search box and typing in either thing. It will bring up all the posts that are about this same topic. I hope that helps!


  1. […] This is very, very, very normal and not talked about often enough. I have to run to a meeting, so I apologize for the short response. I recommend chatting with a psychiatrist – a low dose of medication as well as some behavioral therapy can work wonders! You are not alone. http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ho…usive-thoughts […]

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  6. […] would describe these intrusive thoughts in detail but I have learned that when you do those that are exposed to them may adopt them as […]

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