In mothers with PPOCD, the focus of the obsessions is often on the fear of purposely harming the newborn, or somehow being responsible for accidental harm.


Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (POCD) affects approximately 3-5 percent of new moms and has symptoms similar to those seen in others with OCD.

What are symptoms of PPOCD?

Symptoms can vary widely from mother to mother. Some examples of common obsessions seen in PPOCD include:

  • Horrifying, intrusive thoughts of stabbing or suffocating a newborn child
  • Unwanted images of throwing or dropping a baby
  • Disturbing thoughts of sexually abusing a child
  • Fear of accidentally harming a child through carelessness
  • Intrusive thoughts of accidentally harming the fetus or child by exposure to medications, environmental toxins, germs, chemicals, or certain foods
  • Fear of being responsible for giving a child a serious disease
  • Fear of making a wrong decision (i.e., getting inoculations, feeding certain foods, taking antidepressants) leading to a serious or fatal outcome

Some common examples of compulsions seen in PPOCD include:

  • Hiding or throwing out knives, scissors, and other sharp objects
  • Avoiding changing soiled diapers for fear of sexually abusing a child
  • Avoiding feeding a child for fear of accidental poisoning
  • Repeatedly asking family members for reassurance that no harm or abuse has been committed
  • Avoidance of certain foods, medications, or normal, everyday activities for fear of harming the fetus
  • Monitoring self for perceived inappropriate sexual arousal
  • Avoiding news articles and TV shows related to child abuse or infanticide
  • Repeatedly and excessively checking in on a baby as he/she sleeps
  • Mentally reviewing daily tasks and events in an attempt to get reassurance that one has not harmed a child or been responsible for harm to a child

How is PPOCD treated?

There are effective treatments for PPOCD and treatment is based on the severity and types of symptoms present. Balance providers can help you choose the best treatment by conducting a thorough history, physical examination, and routine lab tests.


As with other types of OCD, PPOCD typically responds to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). Many experts believe these medications pose no danger, but it is crucial to discuss with your health care provider the potential risks and benefits of treatment.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for treating PPOCD. It teaches different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help you feel less anxious or fearful without having obsessive thoughts or acting impulsively.

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.