Bipolar disorder during Pregnancy
Bipolar disorder during Pregnancy
Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder is one of the most serious and one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat. Bipolar disorder is related to the mood of a person. In this people have significant changes in their mood ranging from manic high to depressive low episodes. Bipolar disorder can make people reluctant to any major life changes, including pregnancy. BD does make pregnancy difficult but it doesn’t make it impossible. So, if you have had bipolar disorder or do have bipolar disorder, you should discuss all your options with your partner and doctor.
Your doctor will look at your overall well-being by considering:
1. How to manage your bipolar disorder?
2. What medications you are taking and what changes to make?
3. How severe are your symptoms?
4. How will your mental health illness affect your baby?
Effects of pregnancy on mental health
Pregnancy involves hormonal changes that can give you mood changes. Some days, you might feel extremely happy and on top of the world. On other days, you might feel down in dumps and sad. Bipolar Disorder symptoms can become more conspicuous during pregnancy. And, this is also true with other mental health issues. Pregnancy can alter women’s moods and the risk of mood swings is greater if bipolar disorder is left untreated during pregnancy.
How to manage bipolar disorder during pregnancy ?
Pregnant women should take the help of mental health professionals if they have bipolar disorder. While treating bipolar disorder in pregnant women and developing foetus, usually the biggest concerns are medications you are already taking to manage your mental health condition. To treat your bipolar disorder, you might be taking mood stabilizers, such as divalproex-sodium or lithium, which might harm a developing foetus.
How they affect the foetuses is not relatively known. One recent study published in New England journal concluded that lithium when taken during the first trimester, may increase the risk for cardiac faults in foetuses.
It has also been noticed that valproate if taken during pregnancy may increase the risk for neurological defects in infants. And, it has also been noticed that in many cases, the neurological defects seemed to resolve in the 1st year of the birth. From all these studies it can be concluded that bipolar disorder medications can impact the development of a foetus. Other medications may also be harmful to the foetus during the treatment of the bipolar disorder. Some of these medications are:
· anti-anxiety drugs
To prevent any harm to your baby and to avoid any pregnancy complications you must tell your OBGYN about all the medications you take for bipolar disorder. Only then your doctor and your obstetrician will decide on the best course of treatment for you and might decide against the medications during pregnancy. This might lead you to rely on other forms of treatment for bipolar disorder, like self-care and psychotherapy. However, continuing the treatment of bipolar disorder during pregnancy may decrease the chances of relapse. Whether to continue the medications or not will be decided by your medical team and they will help you weigh the benefits and the risks of stopping your medications during pregnancy.
Effects of mood disorders on foetuses
Professionals do not clearly know how and how much bipolar disorder can affect fetal development. As bipolar disorder is genetic it can be that you may pass the bipolar disorder to your child, but this isn’t an immediate concern during pregnancy. Scientists are still researching the genetic relationship to bipolar disorder.
But if the bipolar disorder is left untreated it can lead to a number of health problems in the baby such as:
· Low birth weight
· Underdevelopment of brain
· Poor prenatal care
· Poor nutrition
Postpartum and Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder may not only affect women during pregnancy but it can also harm the mother and baby after the pregnancy. There are some risks involved for a mother and her baby’s well-being immediately after labor. Bipolar disorder may increase your chances of postpartum depression. But be careful not to confuse your symptoms with postpartum depression, which is one of the common mental health conditions experienced by many women after having a baby. You can get postpartum depression even if you do not have bipolar disorder.
Postpartum depression is a rare, but serious mental health condition that requires immediate attention and treatment. You can see the postpartum depression in about 1 in 1,000 women. Its symptoms include:
· Mother experiencing depression which usually starts from two to three days after delivery.
· Women may also experience hallucinations and delusions. This can prove to be extremely dangerous for both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding can also be challenging for new mothers suffering from bipolar disorder. If you are taking certain medications there’s a concern about them being transmitted from the mother to her baby via breast milk. While antidepressants don’t seem to have these risks but antipsychotics drugs can be dangerous. And, breastfeeding a new born can disrupt your sleep, which is important in treating and preventing bipolar relapse.
Treatment for bipolar disorder
For pregnant women, the treatment for bipolar disorder can be tricky, as the medications affect the baby too. Talking and discussing about your treatment plan with a doctor and mental health professional can help you in finding the right treatment. It is imperative to find the right treatment plan. Some of the treatment plans can be:
You can try electroconvulsive therapy Exercise regularly to naturally boost serotonin in your body i.e., the “feel-good” hormone Talking with a therapist or group can help Cognitive-behavioural therapy can also be helpful Support groups with people with a similar mental health problem. Eat food that has omega-3 fatty acids , like flaxseed plus eat a couple of servings of low-mercury fish in a week. Include more plant-based foods in your diet. How to Plan Ahead?
If you have bipolar disorder and are planning to have a baby then plan your pregnancy ahead of time with some help from your doctor. This will help you in making it easier for you to develop a plan that will help you in keeping your baby safe. The plan can include:
switching medications that are not harmful to the baby deciding against the medications altogether start taking nutritional supplements before conceiving take adequate self-care measures, such as adequate sleep and rest To have a complication free pregnancy there are numerous things to be taken into consideration in any pregnancy. With bipolar disorder, you can have a safe pregnancy but for this to happen you should try and plan ahead as much as possible.
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