Postpartum OCD – Yes, OCD

Postpartum OCD is the most misunderstood of the perinatal disorders.A s many as 3-5 percent of new mothers will experience these symptoms. This is my experience being one of the 3-5 percent.

The morning after I had my baby boy, the on-call OB who delivered my baby came in to check up on me. She just started practicing at the renowned Beverly Hills clinic under my OB who’s a nationally known figure in women's health and co-founder of the clinic I’ve been going to for 10 years.

He was out of the country and all of his and her own patients decided to go into labor on the same weekend. She was exhausted. 

As she checked under my hood, she told me that my OB got back in town that morning and was already on the news.

“You know, talking about the woman who threw her baby out the window at California Hospital.”

I could’ve gotten Postpartum OCD without the image, but it certainly didn’t help. It’s called implantation. After childbirth, a woman is in a hypnotic state and her subconscious is wide open, therefore she’s open to suggestion and thought implantation.

This is a very real thing. That’s why I’m piping up about it.

I felt like I’d been hit in the gut. My subconscious was wide open to suggestion after 36 hours of labor and 10 months off of my mood stabilizer. I’d been through the worst physical trauma of my life and there was now a tiny life asleep right next to me for whose life I was entirely responsible.

The fear and visions crept in immediately. I’m going throw my baby out a window.

I waddled over to the hospital window and stared at the cement three stories below. I was relieved the window in my room didn’t open. I told no one what I was thinking.

Then I found out that the woman actually threw him off an outdoor parking garage. The fear and visions expanded beyond windows.

I found myself terrified once we got home from the hospital. The visions were unrelenting. I duct taped all the windows in our townhouse shut. I duct taped our balcony door shut.

My husband was frightened. My therapist was on speed dial. The fear followed me to the car so I wouldn’t drive with the baby without a passenger. The visions wouldn't stop – they were uncontrollable.

I didn’t want to hurt my baby; I was scared it would be a reflex that I couldn’t control.

My therapist came to my house. We did hypnosis. It helped a little. Kicking and screaming, I went back on lithium three weeks into breastfeeding. I had to stop immediately and my breasts hurt like hell. My normal dosage of lithium didn't even scrape the surface and it now made me sick. Eventually, I had to change meds completely.

My mom had to come into town to take care of the baby and me. Then my sister. I was not OK for a long time.

It took three months for me to get control of the images and fear. Almost five months later, I still have them occasionally, but they go away about as quickly as they come in. It's normal for women to have these images — it's rarely talked about and is called postpartum OCD.

Postpartum depression gets a lot of buzz, but Postpartum OCD? I didn’t even know what it was and most women don’t talk about it because of fear and stigma. PPOCD is more common than I ever knew.

I had to confront the OB; I didn’t want to, but I had to so she wouldn’t do this to another woman.

After all, the clinic’s mission statement is: dedicated to caring for the specialized needs of women from early womanhood through motherhood and beyond. We deem the doctor-patient relationship an important one, and strive to foster the trust each patient has in her physician as a counselor and advocate.

I most certainly didn’t feel like my doctor was my advocate. Quite the opposite actually. I obsessed about the imaginary conversation I’d have with her. You don’t have to be crazy to know how unproductive it is having conversations with people who aren't in the room.

I can't live with resentment in my heart. I made an appointment with her.

I prayed about what to say before I went in — I prayed to be kind and not come from a place of anger.

She came in the room and gave me a huge hug.

"How have you been?"


Really Courtney?

Ugh. A wave of fear hit me and I dove in.

“Actually it's been really hard. I haven’t been good. I don’t know if you remember, but the morning after delivery you told me about the woman who..."

She remembered the morning clearly. Thank God. At first she didn't see the problem. It was idle chit-chat. Then I watched it sink in.

She sat me down. Tears welled up in her eyes.

"Tell me everything."

We talked for 45 minutes. She apologized a zillion times. She asked if there was anything she could do for me — anything at all.

“Please be sensitive to your patients with mental illness.”

We hugged for a long time. She thanked me for my courage and for helping her be a better doctor.

I’ve become her patient. I’m no longer seeing her celebrity boss. Her reaction elicited trust and confidence in me. She went beyond a doctor; she became a human. She took the time to admit her wrong and amend it.

This was one of the first times I’ve advocated for my own mental health. I’m now living a new chapter of this story. I’m a mother. I’m stable. And I have a phenomenal OB who will pay closer attention to her patients with mental illness.

Mission statements mean nothing if we don’t live them.


Click here to learn more about PPOCD.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

COURTNEY RUNDELL January 07, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Oh Sonya what a great comment. I've never thought of you as anti-meds. I do love the clarification though. It's so easy when we're unstable to assume someone is against what we are doing. Now that my meds have failed me, I have to be careful to not come across as against meds as well. I'm grateful for when they worked and I'm mad they stopped working. But it's gotten me to seek alternative remedies. Bottom line, I've learned that I have to be my own advocate, which is tricky when I'm not well... but we keep trudging... a day at a time! I love you woman.
Jen M. January 09, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Hi there. One year with postpartum OCD and counting. No meds. I'll be glad when this is over. Thanks for the responses. I'm sorry to hear that the meds stopped working for you, Courtney. That is so frustrating. Well, one day at a time. Some days it's one hour at a time. I wish peace and harmony for you and your family. Take care and God bless.
COURTNEY RUNDELL January 10, 2013 at 05:29 AM
Thanks, Jen. I'm so sorry you're still in it and I hope this is just a faint memory soon. I'm documenting my journey "on the natch" on my personal site www.beepea.com if you want to follow. Pregnancy and childbirth changed my chemistry so much that what worked before is no longer working. It's a challenge, but I'm hopeful of a sane and balance future. Hang in there, girlie - we can do this. xoxo
Jen M. March 06, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Hi there. 14 months with postpartum OCD and still going through it. I've given up believing this will end at some point. I won't be leaving any more comments at this blog because I don't like to leave depressing comments. Good luck to all of you, and take care.
COURTNEY RUNDELL March 10, 2013 at 06:21 AM
Oh Jen, I'm so so sorry you're still struggling. I'm free and clear of the OCD now and my son's 18 months old. I've gotten into meditation and hypnosis and it's done wonders in all areas of my life - I get them for free on YouTube. Please keep fighting. I'm praying for you. xoxo


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