Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is often mentioned, but not necessarily understood.  Pam is a Best Beginnings family member, London Marathon runner and author of the Obsessive Compulsive Mother blog. We spoke with Pam about how her condition influenced her journey to parenthood and how she found support.

Pam, you were diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder before you had the Munchkin. How did your symptoms change during pregnancy, as well as postnatally?

During my pregnancy, my OCD manifested itself with worries of contamination, such as getting sick and passing it on to my baby. I would wash my hand A LOT.

Post-birth, these thoughts were aggravated and my condition worsened by the tiredness and stress of birth, as well as a short stay in the neonatal unit. My thought patterns developed postnatally and included worries about harming my baby.

What encouraged you to find support for your obsessive compulsive disorder?

I noticed the changes in my thoughts during this time and sought help after the birth of my son.  I feared people would think I was a danger to my baby and try to take my baby away. I was so upset and immediately shared this with my husband and family who were so supportive.  They reassured me that these worries were just thoughts and that by asking for help, I was doing the right thing for me and my baby. I saw the GP with my husband who referred me to perinatal mental health services. I promptly saw a psychiatrist until I felt strong enough again.

It’s important for others experiencing mental health difficulties to know that they are not alone, ever. We should all be able to talk about OCD and mental health in general. That’s why Best Beginnings’ Out of the Blue videos in the multi-award winning free app, Baby Buddy, are amazing! These videos help people realise that what they are experiencing is not unusual and encourage them to seek help and recover.

How has obsessive compulsive disorder shaped the mother and person you are today?

Having OCD makes me very careful about what I am consciously and subconsciously teaching my son. It’s made me actively challenge my thoughts and actions on a daily basis. I think it’s also made me more focused on ensuring he can simply be a kid and enjoy life experiences, unhindered by my anxieties.

I also wanted to raise awareness about mental health and OCD. I ran the London Marathon this year and knew instantly that Best Beginnings and the Heads Together campaign were the ideal fit for my efforts. Best Beginnings support a cause close to my heart; the mental health of parents and children in order to give children the best start in life. I am proud to have been part of an amazing team who were running to change the conversation around mental health.

What advice can you suggest for other parents with obsessive compulsive disorder?

I would encourage people to talk to their family and friends about what OCD means for them. Build your own support system and network. Don’t let OCD ever trick you into thinking you are not a good parent.

The Out of the Blue videos are also a are a vital resource for parents, as well as health professionals to help them understand OCD and other mental health conditions.  It reassures parents with OCD that their worries are just thoughts rather than intentions and that they are not bad people.

It’s critical to reach out to local support groups or online networks, and find ways to manage your anxieties. I find writing really helps me, so I try to find time for it. It’s difficult to squeeze in ‘me-time’ as a parent but self-care is so important!


For more videos and information on obsessive compulsive disorder and mental health, download Baby Buddy and watch our Out of the Blue films.

For support, please contact your local healthcare professional, or there are a number of organisations who offer support and advice: