Using Mood Stabilizers During Pregnancy
Mood stabilizers are prescription drugs used by people with bipolar disorder. As their name implies, these medications stabilize your mood. However, using mood stabilizers during pregnancy can have some undesired side effects.
These medications can really help people who suffer manic episodes or depression. However, you should consider the risk they represent during pregnancy.
Certainly, a baby’s arrival can be an emotionally hard time for any woman. This can be especially difficult if they have mental health issues, like bipolar disorder, and use mood stabilizers to keep themselves healthy.
Every single mood stabilizer can be harmful to the baby. This is why, in case you become pregnant, your doctor will probably ask you to consider other alternatives that are less harmful to the baby or to just stop taking your medication completely.
Likewise, studies have shown that exposure during pregnancy to the four commonly used mood stabilizers can be teratogenic, and also increase chances of deformities and neonatal complications.
Bipolar disorder in pregnant women
If you’re being treated for bipolar disorder and you’re planning on getting pregnant, you might not know what to do next. In this case, the first thing to do is analyze what you’re going through and discuss it with your psychiatrist.
If you decide to continue using your medications, it’s very important to get professional guidance and to have an action plan. This can help you do any necessary changes to keep your fetus healthy and keep risks at bay.
In a way, there are many options. The most common mood stabilizers are lithium, sodium valproate, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine.
Likewise, research suggests that continuing treatment during pregnancy can reduce the risk of relapse in women with bipolar disorder. However, the patient and their doctor should ask themselves if using mood stabilizers can harm the baby in the long term.
Tips on how to use mood stabilizers during pregnancy
1. Think about yourself
First of all, when you use mood stabilizers during pregnancy, think about yourself and your own health. This means that if you believe you need to use this type of medication, then you shouldn’t completely stop taking them.
Pregnancy is a time where you need to be as stable and as healthy as you can be. So, maybe, if you stop taking your medicines, you might develop certain mental health problems. This wouldn’t be safe for you nor for the baby.
“All mood stabilizers in charge of balancing your mood can cause harm to the baby.”
2. Think about what’s best for the baby
Any pregnant mother wishes to give birth to a healthy child. In this case, the most important thing is to think of the baby’s wellbeing and development and avoid anything that might risk this.
On the contrary, you need to realize that using mood stabilizers during pregnancy comes with some added risks. If possible, try to cut down the doses or to just completely stop taking them.
3. Try to change medications
You could consider changing your antipsychotic medication for one that’s less harmful to the child. Don’t forget that, before you make any decision like this, you need to consult your doctor or psychiatrist. They’ll know what steps to take to have a smooth transition.
Remember that bipolar disorder during pregnancy can be hard to control. The dilemma is whether women should continue using their medication during these months, which implies accepting the minor risks they pose to their unborn child, or to just stop taking their medication and increase their likeliness to have a relapse.
In short, you should reduce the use of mood stabilizers during pregnancy to avoid harming the fetus’ development. However, it’s a priority for the mother to be as stable as possible during her pregnancy and able to really enjoy this magical moment.