Abramowitz JS, Schwartz SA, Moore KM. Maternal OCD. Obsessional thoughts in postpartum females and their partners: Content, severity, and relationship with depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 2003; 10:(3)157-64

Abramowitz JS, Khandker M, Nelson CA, Deacon BJ, Rygwall R. Maternal OCD. The role of cognitive factors in the pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive symptoms: a prospective study. Behav Res Ther. 2006; 44:(9)1361-74

Challacombe FL, Salkovskis PM, Woolgar M, Wilkinson EL, Read J, Acheson R. Parenting and mother-infant interactions in the context of maternal postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder: Effects of obsessional symptoms and mood. Infant Behav Dev. 2016; 44:11-20

Fairbrother N, Abramowitz JS. New parenthood as a risk factor for the development of obsessional problems. Behav Res Ther. 2007; 45:(9)2155-63

Fairbrother N, Woody SR. New mothers' thoughts of harm related to the newborn. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2008; 11:(3)221-9

Fairbrother N, Janssen P, Antony MM, Tucker E, Young AH. Perinatal anxiety disorder prevalence and incidence. J Affect Disord. 2016; 200:148-55

Matthey S, Barnett B, Howie P, Kavanagh DJ. Diagnosing postpartum depression in mothers and fathers: whatever happened to anxiety?. J Affect Disord. 2003; 74:(2)139-47

Torres AR, Prince MJ, Bebbington PE Obsessive-compulsive disorder: prevalence, comorbidity, impact, and help-seeking in the British National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of 2000. Am J Psychiatry. 2006; 163:(11)1978-85

Living with perinatal OCD

02 November 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 11


Obsessive compulsive disorder can have devastating effects on new parents, but is under-researched and poorly understood. Catherine Benfield explains the condition and what midwives can do to help

If you had told me 5 years ago that at some point in the future I would be talking to midwives about the nature of my intrusive thoughts, I would be amazed. Amazed and terrified. That's because 5 years ago I was unknowingly experiencing perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I was having the most intensely graphic, unwanted, recurring intrusive thoughts about harming my newborn son and, as lovely as I'm sure you all are, you were the last people I wanted to tell about it. I was worried that if I did, you'd begin the proceedings to have my son taken out of my care.

I've lived alongside undiagnosed OCD since childhood, but I didn't recognise intrusive thoughts, which I started experiencing almost straight after childbirth, as a symptom of the condition until I researched it myself, and had it confirmed in my first cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) session. By this point my son was 2—it had taken me 2 years to get help.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month