Some people develop OCD after having a child. This isn’t surprising. Having a baby can change a lot of things, including a person’s genetics and lifestyle. There are more things to worry about, a lack of sleep and almost constant demands being placed upon a person. When you have a susceptible, completely reliant, cute little baby to care for you become more aware of everything that could potentially hurt them. It’s little wonder some people become so worried about the dangers that they start obsessing over these dangers. They may start to do things in order to prevent the bad things from happening. There are many worries which can manifest after having a child, the most common of which is a fear of the child becoming ill or hurting themselves. The person may then try to ‘protect’ the child by cleaning everything, by preventing the child from doing certain things or going certain places. Bleach is used to sterilise every surface/toy/clothing. The child may be forced to wear gloves when outside. Their nails may be severely cut to avoid getting dirt under them.
The person is so worried about their child that they try to protect them from everything, even things which won’t actually hurt them. They may cause more harm trying to protect them. They realise this but find it difficult to stop.
After my first child was born I became worried about things not being clean enough. Prior to this I was completely oblivious to dirt. In a way this was actually helpful to me, but at the time it wasn’t much better than before I had OCD. I became obsessed about cleaning. I refused to touch anything in case I became dirty. I didn’t want my child to touch anything and worried about him being on the floor when crawling in case there was any dirt. I was washing my hands at least 20 times a day. I’d use my elbows to open and close doors so my hands wouldn’t get contaminated. Mealtimes and weaning involved me covering my hands with wipes to touch my son in order to clean his face. It was quite bad. At one point I realised how bad it was getting and how stupid the whole thing was. I had grown up loving the outdoors. I used to lie in the grass, splash in puddles, kick up mud, make buildings in the sand. I rarely washed, didn’t brush my teeth, peed outside. I was very rarely ill.
The turning point came when I realised how bad my OCD had gotten. I knew it wasn’t right and that I had to do something about it. I had to fight the urge to wash my hands after touching anything. I still struggle with this today but I managed to reduce this need. I fought myself everyday not to clean, not to prevent my child from doing typical everyday things, not to stay away from life in case I picked up a few germs. Somehow I managed. It was hard. There are times when I lapse back into that cycle. It’s a never-ending battle but I’m managing it.
I didn’t have any help, I was lucky in that I didn’t need any. My OCD wasn’t too severe. But for some people it does become severe. They struggle to live a ‘normal’ life because of the worries.