Breaking the Silence: Understanding Postpartum OCD and Overcoming Medical Gaslighting

August 15, 2023

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The Unspoken Reality of Postpartum OCD

Bringing a new life into the world can be a joyous occasion. However, for some new moms, it comes with unexpected challenges. While postpartum depression has gained some awareness, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often remains in the shadows. In this blog post, we shed light on this lesser-known condition and the stigma and shame that new moms may experience. Moreover, we uncover the alarming issue of medical gaslighting that frequently compounds the suffering of these brave women. Together, we aim to raise awareness, ignite compassion, and empower new moms to seek help and healing.

Understanding Postpartum OCD: Beyond the Baby Blues

Postpartum OCD is a distinct condition characterized by intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses related to the baby. New moms with this condition may experience overwhelming fears of harming their baby, irrational worries about the baby’s safety, or compulsions to engage in excessive cleaning and checking behaviors. It is essential to differentiate postpartum OCD from the more widely recognized postpartum depression. In fact, the treatments widely differ. Postpartum OCD affects new moms (and other caregivers) who experience intrusive thoughts and fears related to their baby, leading to immense emotional distress.

The Stigma and Shame: Suffering in Silence with Postpartum OCD

Despite the prevalence of postpartum OCD, societal stigma and shame often silence the voices of those who suffer. New moms may feel immense guilt and fear of judgment, causing them to hide their struggles and forego seeking help. This isolation exacerbates their anguish, hindering them from accessing the support and treatment they desperately need. As a result, medical gaslighting, where a new mom’s concerns are dismissed or downplayed by healthcare providers, further deepens the sense of isolation and desperation.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): A Path to Healing

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) emerge as a beacon of hope for new moms battling postpartum OCD. This evidence-based treatment encourages moms to confront their intrusive thoughts and fears in a controlled environment while resisting engaging in compulsive behaviors. As they face their fears head-on, they gradually learn that their thoughts are not indicative of their true selves. ERP empowers new moms to reclaim control over their lives by bravely facing their intrusive thoughts and breaking free from the cycle of anxiety and compulsions.

Embracing Support and Compassion: A Call to Action

Breaking the stigma surrounding postpartum OCD begins with compassion and understanding. As a society, we must create safe spaces where new moms can share their struggles without fear of judgment or dismissal. Healthcare providers play a crucial role in this journey by actively listening to their concerns and providing appropriate support and treatment.

Empowering New Moms on Their Journey to Healing

It is time to shatter the silence surrounding postpartum OCD and end the stigma and shame that burdens new moms. By raising awareness of this condition and shedding light on the issue of medical gaslighting, we can pave the way for understanding and compassion. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) offers a powerful tool for new moms. With ERP, parents with OCD can embark on their journey to healing. Over time, they can reclaim their lives from the grips of intrusive thoughts and fears. Together, let’s create a world where all new moms can find solace, support, and the path to recovery they deserve.

Resources for Your Recovery

To learn more about OCD and anxiety recovery strategies and resources, visit my website at Here you can find additional support and guidance. You can access my nearly 3 hour long “Handling Scary Thoughts in Motherhood” masterclass alongside additional helpful resources such as “When It’s Scary Having Kids” and “Supporting Without Accommodating” (for family members and loved ones).

Want more content like this? Check out some of my related podcasts and masterclasses below.

This post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own professional mental health or medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Finally, make sure to check with your own physician or mental health professional before trying or implementing anything read here.

© 2023 Jenna Overbaugh, LLC


i need this stat!

A great tool for those with OCD and anxiety OR professionals.  This free PDF will help you identify goals and set them into motion step by step.

"Imagine  Your Recovered Life" instant download PDF

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