I was already 5 months into my pregnancy before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. That said….I lived through hell the months prior and know what it’s like to be a Bipolar pregnant woman
If you are not pregnant yet, but considering pregnancy, the first thing I can suggest to you…….start talking about it NOW with your pdoc and obgyn. Let them both know that you want to have a baby and when you’d like to start trying. Work out with your pdoc what medications are safe during pregnancy and what medications he’s willing to allow you to try. I would personally give yourself a good 6 months to a year of trial and error with medications before you start trying. You will need to find this time to figure out which medications will help keep you stable through the transition period. Also, get your OBGYN and your pdoc on board with one another. Have them working as a team. This will ensure the best treatment possible for you
Expect ups and downs, as with any med change or tweak. You may find that you can stay on your same medications but need a lower dose. Or you may find you need to go off all medications until you are past your first trimester. This is when the baby is developing the most. The second and third trimester is for growth of the baby and medications may not be of much concern to the baby.
Read as much as possible about Bipolar and Pregnancy. Research, educate. Find out which medications are in safer classes. Stay away from meds that are classed as D medications. They have known side effects in the baby and are probably not good choices in the long run.
If you are already pregnant, your work may be a little harder. You are already going through hormonal changes due to the pregnancy and finding the right med combo can feel like a disaster. You may find it’s harder to get your OB and your pdoc on the same page. One or the other may not be comfortable prescribing medication throughout your pregnancy. This is the time to find a doctor who is willing to work with you, not against you. Even if you like your doctors, your treatment and well-being must come first. Being a suicidal pregnant woman is the last thing any doctor wants to have to deal with.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating, drinking and resting enough to help your baby grow. My last baby M&M was born 4 weeks early, weighing in at a tiny, 4 pounds 13 ounces. I do not contribute this to the medications, but to the nausea I felt on the medications. It also didn’t help that M&M was very sleepy after I had received the epidural, which I must stress is a common side effect for babies. She did end up in the ICU because she was not eating properly due to being so sleepy. My own eating habits was difficult because the medications combined with morning sickness made it hard to gain weight. Try and find a medication that has the least amount of side effects, especially nausea, or other GI issues. Rest was a huge issue for me as I was trying to take care of other children with little or no help. I tried napping when the kids were resting but then this just messed with my sleep at night. I contribute most of my pregnancy issues with the Zoloft as that caused me the most GI issues. The Seroquel did not, it just made me hungrier. That said, keep an eye on weight gain, making sure you are not gaining too much weight too fast as that can be unhealthy for both you and the baby.
If you are considering breast-feeding I would suggest reading this article here Bipolar and Breastfeeding. It has come good information on how to deal with doctor’s concerning this topic.
All in all, if you want to get pregnant and have a baby, you need to find a set of doctor’s that are willing to work with you. My perinatologist quoted that “The benefits of treating the baby are more important then the possible risks to the baby and therefore should be considered first in treatment of all MI’s.” I was lucky and fortunate to have such great doctor’s that were willing to work together so I could be treated.
Until next time….