I was diagnosed with BP 11 years ago, around the time I met my husband. We are 30 now and have been discussing starting a family in a year or so. We are both anxious about me weening & remaining off my meds for a year, but there are too many health risks for the baby, otherwise. How have other BP women dealt with pregnancy and maintaining stability?
I was around 30 when I had my last child. I was either 30 while I was pregnant or turned 30 the year I had her, can’t remember which. Anyway, not really that important. I had not been diagnosed bipolar yet but I was having major symptoms and we were on a military base. The military doctors, before I got pregnant, were trying to get my symptoms under control with stuff like Ativan, Xanax, and finally Prozac. They gave me Prozac either right before or right after I found out I was pregnant. Most doctors believe that Prozac is a “safe” drug while you are pregnant. But Prozac didn’t work for me. It made my symptoms worse or it just didn’t do the job and my symptoms got worse. My pregnancy was 9 months of massive mood swings, arguments over inconceivable nothingness and emotional roller coasters with twists and turns that wouldn’t stop. I lived a nightmare. My marriage never recovered.
A friend of mine now takes Effexor. She is 30 and recently married and her and her husband are considering having a child in the future. She discussed with her doctor the alternative medicines and once again she was also told that Prozac was the “safe” drug of choice. It has the lowest risk of birth defects and side effects to the baby and to you.
However, I have my own opinion about this and this is my own opinion after talking with one of my doctors and explaining to him the torment I went thru during my pregnancy with no mood stabilizers. First of all, ALL mood stabilizers come with some risk to you and the baby. Even Prozac (in all its unearned glory) comes with risk. There are litigations going on now for mothers whose children have suffered birth defects as a result from taking drugs such as Paxil, Zoloft, and yes Prozac while pregnant. But you have to understand risks don’t mean results. Just like with side effect, not every person who takes the same drug is going to have the same side effect results, Not everyone taking a drug is going to end up having a child with a birth defect. You have weight the risk vs. the rewards. I take Geodon. If I was to get pregnant today, I would not stop taking my Geodon. Yes there is a risk, but the thing you must consider, what we always must take into consideration, does the risk outweigh the reward. Can you function for 9months without your medication? Without ANY medication? Yeah maybe I could get thru one day. Maybe I might even get thru two. But I’m not fooling anyone, including myself if I’m going to stand here and lie to you and say I can make it one month let alone 9 months without my medication. My whole world would fall apart. I would no longer function. I would go into a depression. I would start having mood swings, rages, I wouldn’t be able to take care of my children, manage my bills, clean my house or even get myself to my doctor appointments. How is that helping anyone?
This is something you need to talk over with your doctor and you need to determine together if the risks outweigh the rewards or vice versa. Or maybe there is another medication that he feels will produce the same results with less risk. All medications come with risks during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a tricky thing to get thru when you are on maintenance medications. It is always important that you talk to your doctor and get his advice. But don’t put yourself thru 9 months of torment when there are alternatives out there. You can have a safe pregnancy and still remain stable with the help of your doctor. Just work together. It’s always about teamwork and open lines of communication. Let your doctor know now that you are considering having a baby and you want to know what options are available or what you would need to do. Risk vs. rewards, it’s always a hard decision but we always have to make it.
You must also consider that a healthy diet and good exercise will help keep you stable. Even during pregnancy, a low impact exercise program will help you keep fit and stay balanced. The better we feel physically, the better we will feel mentally and emotionally. Meditation is always good too. My therapist recommends Yoga. I’m not sure how well that will go over while you are pregnant but you might be able to give it a try. It’s good for the body and the mind. It really helps balance you out.
Most importantly is speaking to your doctor. Let him know your plans. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.