Postpartum OCD Signs
If you’re worried about getting a tingling sensation in your groin when around your newborn, it may be a sign that you have Postpartum OCD. Here’s what that means:
PPOCD consists of unwanted intrusive thoughts, urges, and mental images pertaining to harm against one’s child or children and manifests shortly after the birth (or adoption or fostering) of a new child. While mostly women experience this manifestation of OCD, PPOCD is also known to occur in new fathers. Sometimes, people can experience sensations in the groinal (please note, groinal is a commonly used term in the OCD community) region during the moments they would least like to feel these sensations, such as when being around their newborn. Almost the mind may interpret these feelings, sensations, or thoughts as threatening, intrusive, and purposeful, they are actually ego-dystonic, meaning that they do not align with a person’s values or identity.
These thoughts are often repugnant, disgusting, or terrifying to the person experiencing them. Naturally, these thoughts riddle the person with doubts, guilt, and fears of them being true.
The sensation itself will be unwelcome or shocking to the person, but could also include concerns or worries like “I may harm my child,” or, “What does this mean about me as a parent?” The mind has a way of interpreting various innocuous and uncomfortable sensations as dangerous, resulting in fixating on them and thinking about them in a continuous, anxiety-producing loop we call obsessive compulsive disorder.
How to treat PPOCD fears
|If postpartum OCD fears about getting a tingling sensation in your groin when around your newborn are causing you to suffer, you can get better by seeking consultation and therapy with a licensed therapist who specializes in OCD treatment.
The gold standard treatment for any subtype of OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP is a process where a person is gradually and systematically exposed to their own fear and resists the urge to engage in any behavior that would immediately eliminate the fear. As difficult as it may be to accept, anything we might do to immediately alleviate fear could, over time, become the means of maintaining the fear.
Think of a child learning to walk and giving up the task after falling a few times. Due to fear of falling again, the child would be hindered from learning the joys and freedom of movement, and the rest of their life would be spent crawling. Through ERP, people learn that their thoughts do not define who they are or the actions that they take. Therefore, there is no need to do a compulsion, since there really is no need to neutralize the thought: it is simply an insignificant thought, and nothing more.
Here is an example to shed more light on this: Try not to think of a pink elephant. Do not picture a pink elephant in your head at all–no pink elephant thoughts whatsoever. Did you think of one? The answer is probably yes.
Here’s another: do not think of anything that you could ever do that might harm a loved one. Have no thoughts whatsoever of any harm coming to anyone you love, and especially be sure that you do not think of any ways that you could be involved in that harm coming to them. Also a difficult task; not only did you probably think of something that would harm a loved one, you also may feel a bit of guilt about it, even though you were guaranteed to think of it in the exercise.
When people have Postpartum OCD concerns, it feels similar—no one wants intrusive thoughts or feelings, and they aren’t to blame for having them. ERP therapy is designed to teach people how to let their thoughts exist without doing anything to try to make them go away. In this way, they can learn to manage OCD long-term.
Though there can be a great deal of guilt and shame that is involved in these intrusive thoughts, OCD thoughts do not mean anything about you, your values, or your identity, and you can learn to live your life with confidence, without postpartum OCD interfering with the things you value most.