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Can I have a healthy pregnancy if I am being treated for bipolar disorder?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you have bipolar disorder and want to have children, it is important to understand all about bipolar disorder and pregnancy. Managing a mood disorder during pregnancy is a balancing act, as you review the risks and benefits of bipolar disorder mood swings versus the medications and other treatments. Your obstetrician and psychiatrist will work together to assess your bipolar disorder. They will discuss the medications that are available and how these will affect you and the fetus. Ask your doctor about these treatments. Sometimes staying in therapy can help with mood swings during pregnancy. Your doctor will help you determine the safest course of action for your pregnancy.

In general, pregnancy, labor and delivery increase the symptoms of bipolar disorder. You are at a higher risk of recurrent episodes and more likely to require hospitalization, and may require changes in medications. But with careful planning, using an ob doc who has a special expertise in this field, and a close watch on your symptoms, you can manage pregnancy as adeptly as a pilot flying through turbulence. Talk to your psychiatrist and OBGYN about the risks before you get pregnant, if possible. Discuss how the pregnancy will affect your mood swings and how your treatment may impact your unborn baby.

In terms of your treatment, for the period of time around your pregnancy, you may need to adjust or change your medications since many of the medications that are used to treat bipolar disorder could harm your baby. Depakote and Tegretol, for instance, may cause birth defects. However, lithium and mood stabilizers such as Haldol and Thorazine pose little risk to your baby. Also, talk to your doctor before pregnancy about other options.

Dr. Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine Specialist

 

For the period of time around your pregnancy, you may need to adjust or change your medications since many of the medications that are used to treat bipolar disorder could harm your baby.‬ Depakote and Tegretol, for instance, may cause birth defects. However, lithium and mood stabilizers such as Haldol and Thorazine pose little risk to your baby. Also, talk to your doctor before pregnancy about other options.

Dr. Thomas Jensen
Psychiatrist (Therapist)

During your pregnancy, you must work closely with your psychiatrist and obstetrician. This risk of injury to the fetus due to medications must be weighed against the risk of a relapse in the illness. Tough judgment calls will be required regarding these risks.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.