Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety & OCD

ANXIETY – Pregnancy or postpartum anxiety can be present on its own or in addition to postpartum depression. While most moms experience some anxiousness or worry during pregnancy or after giving birth, postpartum anxiety is more severe and impacts a mom’s ability to function and/or bond with her baby. Some symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:


  • Constant worry
  • Feeling as though something bad is going to happen
  • Racing thoughts that are difficult to slow down
  • Feeling like your to-do list is never done or that your work is never good enough
  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbances
  • Feeling as though you can’t sit still, restlessness
  • Physical symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or diarrhea


In addition to generalized anxiety, a mom may also suffer from postpartum panic disorder with which she will likely experience extreme nervousness and recurring panic attacks. These attacks may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations and numbness or tingling in the extremities. These symptoms are not life threatening and will subside after the attack passes.


OCDAnxiety may also present as pregnancy or postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder or postpartum-OCD. This disorder is known for causing intrusive thoughts that are unwanted and terrifying to the mom who is experiencing them. You might be suffering from postpartum-OCD if you are experiencing some of the following:


  • Worried constantly no matter what others might say to reassure you
  • Disturbed by dark, unwanted thoughts – possibly about harm coming to your baby
  • Afraid to be alone with your baby
  • Spending hours Googling or researching in an attempt to decrease your anxiety
  • Avoiding potentially harmful things such as the stove, stairs, knives or bathtub
  • Obsessed with checking things such as locked doors or your baby’s breathing
  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbances
  • Afraid that if you share what you’re experiencing with loved ones or a doctor, that your baby will be taken from you


A professional who has not been properly trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders may confuse postpartum-OCD with postpartum psychosis. Therefore, many moms experiencing intrusive thoughts are afraid to be honest with family, friends or providers. The key differentiating factor is that a mom with postpartum-OCD experiences thoughts that are ego-dystonic or thoughts and/or impulses that are distressing and inconsistent with the person she identifies herself to be.