90% Of Pregnant and Postpartum Women Have Intrusive Thoughts. This Is What That Means.

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90% of pregnant and postpartum women have unwanted “intrusive” and disturbing thoughts. But what are intrusive thoughts?
 

Intrusive thoughts were present in all of my pregnancies & postpartum, particularly with my third baby.

Intrusive thoughts are very intense thoughts that pop into your head that make you feel like the worst-case scenario is imminent.
 
They can vary from person to person, but often include fears about harm coming to your baby and/or yourself.

Here’s a good definition of Intrusive thoughts According to The Blue Dot Project

Unwanted “intrusive” & often disturbing thoughts are common for pregnant and postpartum women.

When a mother is suffering from general anxiety these thoughts can be persistent. When a woman feels like a certain action or mental ritual needs to be taken to relieve the discomfort of a thought – these thoughts are considered to be associated with OCD.

Recurrent intrusive thoughts are NOT the same as psychosis, & therefore mothers are not at the same risk of harming themselves or their babies.
Having disturbing intrusive thoughts alone, should not be considered a medical emergency.

Rather clinicians should work with maternal anxiety and OCD experts to develop an appropriate treatment plan which generally includes therapy & may also include medication.

May be an image of child and indoor

For me, intrusive thoughts were:

  • I’m going to have a miscarriage or a stillborn child. My baby isn’t going to survive.
  • Anticipating not hearing a heartbeat on every ultrasound.
  • Imagining having to pick out a casket for a baby.
  • Persistent thoughts about getting in a car crash.
  • Feeling like I was broken and a useless human being.
  • Feeling like my family would be better off without me.
  • Thoughts that my newborn would die unless I checked on his breathing before I went to sleep every night. It was a compulsion where I had to check or I would be overcome with grief that tonight would be the night he would die if I didn’t check.

I had no reason to think these things.

There was no health history in myself or my children that indicated I should anticipate them dying, yet these thoughts materialized seemingly out of nowhere and felt as real and emergent as they possibly could.
 
They felt like what imagine it would be like to be stabbed, except inside my head.
 
I was treated for depression and anxiety, and antidepressants helped me greatly.

While I still struggle with anxiety and depression, the intrusive thoughts are fewer and less intense.

Therapy has also given me coping skills to work through these thoughts when they do make an unwelcomed appearance.
 
Please check in on the moms in your life. Intrusive thoughts are something not a lot of people talk about, yet we know it is more common than many of us realized. Not being in control of your own thoughts is a very scary and unsettling experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. But knowing that there is help, and you aren’t alone, can make all the difference.
 
You can learn more from @PostpartumStress and learn more about OCD & intrusive thoughts from @iocdf
 
This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page. 

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