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What if I forget to take my baby out of the car? Good parents still have scary thoughts

What if I forget to take my baby out of the car? Good parents still have scary thoughts

Photo of stressed mom with anxious thoughts who sees a postpartum anxiety therapist in Arlington, VA.

You’ve heard the stories on the news. You may have even thought, “how could someone possibly forget that they had the baby in the car with them?” Then, you have a baby and suddenly your mind turns against you. How can you trust that you won’t do the same thing to your baby? How can you be trusted to be alone with your baby when all of these horrible thoughts are swimming around in your head?

Is it “normal” to have these anxious/scary thoughts about my baby?

Scary/Intrusive thoughts are very common during the pregnancy and postpartum seasons. These negative, repetitive, unwanted thoughts can come out of nowhere and overtake even the most seasoned parents. Let’s be clear right away, these thoughts are extremely normal and do NOT make you a bad mother.

Examples of Common Anxious Thoughts in New Moms

No two moms have the same experience of parenting, so even your postpartum anxiety will look unique. Some anxious or scary thoughts that might come to mind during the postpartum period include:

  • What if I burn my baby while cooking?
  • What if we get into a car accident on the way to the doctor’s office?
  • What if I am diagnosed with a terminal illness and my baby doesn’t have a mother?
  • What would happen if I dropped my baby down the stairs?
  • My family is probably better off without me and my stress.
  • I just don’t want to be around here anymore.
  • What could I do if I just ran away and left everything and everyone behind?
  • My oldest child will never get used to the new baby, and may even hurt them.

Should I be worried about my scary, anxious thoughts?

When a mother has these normal, persistent thoughts, she is horrified by the fact that they even came through. Scary and intrusive thoughts can be symptoms of postpartum OCD, postpartum depression, or postpartum anxiety. Remember that these thoughts are a symptom and are not about your ability to be a loving, caring and present mother.

You may feel like you are going crazy, or that you’re a bad mother for thinking these thoughts, but they are not genuine desires of your heart. These thoughts are also not a standard symptom of postpartum psychosis–the really scary mental break that some mothers experience due to a sudden, drastic hormonal shift. These thoughts will often be kept to herself, since it feels like no one will understand that she isn’t actually trying to hurt herself or her child(ren). However, when mothers have a judgement-free space to share their thoughts, effective coping treatments can finally begin.


If you are worried about these thoughts, then it’s actually a good sign! Good mothers DO think scary thoughts when they are experiencing depression and anxiety.  If these thoughts are out of character for you and make no sense, it often shows that you are experiencing obsessive symptoms of postpartum anxiety.

Postpartum Anxiety is Treatable

The good news is that postpartum anxiety is treatable. A skilled women’s counselor can help you learn to come with and decrease your anxious thoughts about your baby and parenting. Although it may be hard to talk about your thoughts, it might actually make you feel better to tell someone you trust.  No one is going to take your baby away or think you’re a bad mother, based on these scary, intrusive thoughts. These symptoms are absolutely treatable, usually with medication and supportive counseling.

Young mom holding a sleeping baby. The mom is learning to cope with anxious thoughts with help from a postpartum anxiety therapist in Northern Virginia.Counseling for Postpartum Concerns in Northern Virginia, Maryland, & Washington, DC

While scary and intrusive thoughts are very common, you do not have to suffer alone. It is often helpful to talk about these thoughts with a mental health professional and have the support of a therapist who can guide you through the postpartum season.


If you or a loved one is interested in postpartum counseling, the caring therapists of Postpartum Wellness are here to support you. Our McLean, VA and Arlington, VA women’s counseling centers have skilled therapists who specialize in counseling for women and parents during the post natal period. We serve clients in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area.

Beginning Counseling at Postpartum Wellness

It may feel like a giant step to reach out and ask for help, but we make the process as easy as possible. To begin counseling for any postpartum concern, just follow these steps:

Contact Postpartum Wellness to schedule an intake counseling session

  1. Meet with a caring therapist
  2. Begin the journey toward a more joyful postpartum season
  3. Postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD may begin with scary and intrusive thoughts, but it is possible to enjoy this time. You deserve support through this process and we can help.

A mom kissing her sleeping newborn after seeing a therapist in Arlington, VA for postpartum depression and anxiety.

Other Mental Health Services for Women & Parents

At our Northern Virginia counseling offices, we help all women live happy, healthy lives. Our skilled therapists care about what matters most to you. We offer a variety of services. Including counseling for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety treatment, and supportive counseling during infertility. We also help women find healing after traumatic births as well as helping moms on bed rest or who are stressed during a high-risk pregnancy. You are not alone in this journey. Contact us today to begin counseling and move toward healing.


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