Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD Therapy and Counseling in San Jose/Saratoga

At the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley, we offer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Our approach is practical, goal-oriented, compassionate, and scientifically-based while focusing on your individual needs. We are located on the border of San Jose and Saratoga by Westgate Mall and serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Cupertino, Campbell.

What is Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted, repetitive, irrational thoughts (obsessions) resulting in physical or mental acts (compulsions) that you feel driven to perform. About 20% of women with OCD experience the onset during pregnancy or immediately after giving birth. Pregnancy and the birth of a new baby are wonderful exciting times, but for many women also a time of increased anxiety and worry. If you are experiencing intrusive and repetitive thoughts or worries about your baby, you may engage in physical or mental compulsions in order to reduce anxiety. These compulsions may seem irrational to the outside world but, when you perform these acts, your anxiety does go down in the short run. However, while your anxiety might be reduced temporarily, the obsessions soon return and you get stuck in a vicious cycle of performing time-consuming physical or mental rituals to reduce anxiety. Unlike non-pregnancy-related OCD, pregnancy and postpartum OCD usually develop quickly, often within weeks of giving birth. The focus on the obsessions and compulsions is typically on the health and safety of your baby.

Symptoms of Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The following are obsessions and compulsions common in Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD:

  • Contamination obsessions e.g. preoccupation that your infant will come in contact with lead or other hazardous materials and contract a disease despite evidence that this is not likely
  • Doubting yourself and double-checking e.g. checking that you have given your baby the correct medicine, checking for breathing, asking others for reassurance that your baby is okay
  • Feeling compelled to be 100% certain about the health and care of your infant at all times
  • Intrusive thoughts and images about harm coming to your baby
  • Washing hands excessively to avoid germs that may harm your baby
  • Mental compulsions e.g. silent prayers, repeating “I would never harm the baby”

Cognitive Behavioral Model of Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a neurological disorder though there appears to be psychological processes that increase the likelihood of developing the disorder. Most parents (some studies suggest 100%) 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.

Cognitive Behavior Treatment of Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the treatment of choice for Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD. The first step is to understand that intrusive thoughts are a normal part of parenthood and that having a thought is not the same as acting upon it and it doesn’t mean anything bad about you as a mom. You’ll learn to distance yourself from intrusive thoughts and recognize them as coming from the OCD part of your brain. Generally with OCD, we don’t respond to the content of the thoughts like in traditional CBT because you probably know the content is irrational but you keep having the thought anyway. Instead, you will learn to change your interpretation of the thoughts. CBT for Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD also includes exposure and response prevention. This means that you would be exposed to what you fear without engaging in your rituals. For example, if you are driving with your baby and your OCD tells you that your baby is not safe in the backseat and to check that he/she is breathing (despite installing your infant correctly, buckling your baby in, etc.), then the therapy involves not checking and learning to tolerate the anxiety of not being certain. The reason is because going back to check might reduce anxiety in the short run but the obsessive thinking will start again and if you continue to check, you get stuck in the OCD cycle.

How to Get Help for Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Silicon Valley provides therapy and counseling for Pregnancy/Post-Partum OCD. With our convenient location near Highway 85 and Saratoga Avenue, we serve the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Cupertino and Campbell, CA. Contact us at (408) 384-8404 for more information on how we can help you manage your Pregnancy/Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) .

Serving the Silicon Valley communities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, CA

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