Always Checking to Make Sure Baby Is Still Breathing Means You Have a Disorder

baby sleepingWhen you're a new parent, you often worry about everything. I certainly did. The noise. The air. Things being clean. I had late-term preemie twins who were born in the winter during a severe flu season, so I was very germ aware. But it was more than that. When I would get both babies to sleep, without fail, I would check on them if I didn't hear a peep after a few minutes. Could they in fact be asleep? I would think. Are they okay? I need to make sure they are still breathing. So I did. Time and time again. Every time. I had OCD. And you probably do, too.

Apparently a new study showed that new moms exhibit a higher rate of obsessive compulsive disorder traits than the average person. That postpartum period sure is wild, isn't it?


It makes sense. Our bodies just had a rush of hormones we never had before. We just met our little bundle of baby joy and have become flooded with every emotion. We suddenly are given the responsibility to keep another person alive. So if you're that mom who washed your hands seven times in the last fifteen minutes and placed your hand gently on baby's chest just to feel the rise and fall of her body so you know she's breathing, you aren't alone.

This Northwestern Medicine study revealed that 11 percent of women at two weeks and six months postpartum show significant OCD symptoms compared to 2 to 3 percent in the general population. We're worried about injuring the baby, meaning how well we hold them, is the neck supported properly, will my mother-in-law accidentally drop her -- those types of concerns. And of course we worry about germs and making sure everything is okay, which is why we check on them so much when they are asleep.

I thought I was doing that because I was really in disbelief that my kids were actually asleep. How did I successfully get them both to bed without one crying or being fussy? But they were asleep. And then of course I also remember thinking I heard something -- a coo, a cry, a stir -- and would go creeping back into their room only to find two little sweeties soundly asleep. That's when I'd put my finger under their noses just to feel their breath.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't still do that three years later.

The experts are saying that these symptoms of OCD shouldn't worry us parents. It's a stressful time, this is how we often react. It will pass. Unless you are like me, and still checking on the kids at night to make sure they are breathing. I know they are. It's just a comfort to really, really, really know they are.

I'm not alone, right? Do you check on your kids to make sure they are still breathing? Did you show any of these obsessive-compulsive symptoms after baby was born? Are some still there?

Image via Kekka/Flickr

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